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Mr. "Jumbo" personally chooses the toys for his stores

20 April 2009 / 13:04:08  GRReporter
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The toy store “Jumbo” is growing very fast throughout the last few years. Everybody in Greece likes the radio and TV ads of “Jumbo.” It is not by accident that Mr. Apostolos Vakakis’ firm has at its disposal 2% of the turnover for advertising and the truth is that most of the radio ads are by the boss.

Right on time the company found out that a big part of its clients are immigrants and it filled its shelves with thousands of Asian products. “Jumbo” won the immigrants as its clients with more than 22 000 products with an average price of ?4.99. Right now the firm is standing in front of the challenge to freshen its relationship with the Greek consumers.

Mr. Vakakis’ critics say that he has perplexed his consumers but the owner of the chain knows the market very well and has always adapted adequately to it. Until the crisis is over, the firm wants to keep its high sales and until the end of the 2008-2009 fiscal year, this was achieved. Meanwhile, Mr. Vakakis plans to invest another ?150 million in the next three years.

Based on information provided by “Elefteros Tipos” newspaper, the first six month sales of the company have reached ?276 million, which is an increase of 15.72% compared to the same time last year. The “Jumbo” chain has 43 stores, 40 out of which are in Greece, two in Cyprus and one in Bulgaria.

The market share of the company in Greece is 38% and managers in the company are ambitious when it comes to the Bulgarian and Cyprians markets as well. Two more “Jumbo” stores should open in Bulgaria until the end of 2010.

Even though the “Jumbo” store was born in 1986, Mr. Vakakis was raised among many toys, because his father, Georgios was the owner of the “El Greco” stores. Apostolos Vakakis was born in 1954 in Alexandria, Egypt, where his father owned a factory for producing inflatable polystyrene, which back then was the main material, which was used for refrigerator and building isolation.

Due to political developments and nationalization of properties in Egypt, the Vakakis family comes to Greece in 1962. The father leaves for Italy and starts working in a small family workshop, which was producing bath toys. The family’s situation was so hard, that the mother had to sell all jewelries, which she managed to save during their runaway from Egypt, to the famous industrialist Bodosakis. When the father returned to Greece, the family used the earned money as a initial capital for creating the Greek factory “El Greco” for toys.

In 1979, the young Apostolos graduates from the University of Warwick in England with a degree in Management and returns to Greece, where in 1986 he creates “Jumbo” after working in his father’s firm for ten years. Right now 80% of the toys sold in “Jumbo” are made in Asia. Mr. Apostolos Vakakis visits Shanghai for the first time in 1977 and since then, he spends almost six months out of the year on the Asian continent.

In an interview for “Imersia” newspaper, Mr. Vakakis shares that for the last 30 years, he is constantly with a briefcase in his hands. He visits all factories personally, makes deals and is always in between continents: “I do not believe in a doctor who can diagnose over the phone, nor yet in a lawyer who can advise over the phone, and of course I do not believe in a businessman who makes deals over the phone. If while working, you are not at the place of the event, then the competition will eat you alive. If someone wants to be number one in his field, then he needs to ask himself: “am I working enough, so that in the future my business will be as good as it is today?”

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