“You’re not actually going to take on PepsiCo?” That was the comment of a food and beverage industry executive when Petros Sepetas, a civil engineer with an MBA from the US, told him in the early 90s that he wanted to start his own water bottling industry.

The interlocutor of Petros Sepetas was not wrong, as the multinational PepsiCo with Ivi Loutraki water had enormous power.

Most people would have expected him to take a step back, but Petros Sepetas, who wanted to become an industrialist since he was a child, took many steps forward and in 1992, together with Ms. Eleni Theohari, his wife and business partner, they set up the Vikos bottled water factory in Perivleptos, Ioannina.

Today, 30 years later, Vikos controls a leading share of 17.1% in the bottled water industry, is the second largest producer of non-alcoholic beverages in the country, while again without hesitation attempting to compete with a multinational giant, Coca Cola, this time in the soft drinks industry.

With new products produced in its new factory, in Kalpaki, Ioannina, such as Vikos Cola in a glass bottle and in an aluminum can, as well as pink grapefruit in the corresponding packaging, it opens the way for the HoReCa market (restaurants and hotels).

A “footprint” in soft drinks and future targets

Vikos’ market share in soft drinks  – based on sales volume in supermarkets and small retail – is 7.1% and as Petros Sepetas said at a company event in Ioannina on the occasion of the completion of the new investment of 22 million euros, the goal is to exceed 10%.

The Vikos brand in soft drinks, according to the data provided by the company for the period September 2021 – September 2022, is growing by 10.2% when the overall market shows an increase of 1.4%.

The expansion of Vikos in soft drinks in 2014 is the responsibility of the eldest son of the family, Konstantinos Sepetas, who together with his brothers Riginos and Pavlos are the second generation in the company and who are now actively involved in its management.

Based on the data published by Konstantinos Sepetas, Sales & Marketing Director of the company, in the cola category, which is a big bet in view of Vikos’ entry into HoReCa, Vikos Cola’s share is 6.4%, occupying the third market position, while the two multinational giants together hold 88%.

The growth of Vikos Cola in the category is 8.5%, with the specific market being almost stagnant (+0.8%).

The share held by Vikos Cola in a large pan-Hellenic chain reaches 16.5%, which shows that there is enough room for growth, Konstantinos Sepetas said.

The company holds the third position in the category orange drinks with a share of 9.3%, as well as in lemonade with a share of 11.5%.

The share of Pink Grapefruit, a product launched by the company in March 2022, reaches 12.3% of the total market, having already taken the 3rd place and is estimated to rise to the 2nd place by the end of the year.

In the small retail market, Vikos Pink Grapefruit is already in second place with its YTD share at 14.2%.

The Sepeta family and the “passive investment” in EPSA

The main goal of the Sepetas family in soft drinks is the development of its own brand, as Konstantinos Sepetas said when asked about Vikos’ plans regarding its 25% participation in the Thessalian EPSA industry.

He described it “as a passive investment” since there is no channel of communication with the Tsaoutos family, which controls the majority.

He even made it clear that there is nothing concrete on the horizon in relation to EPSA. However, he emphasized that the Sepetas family is open to all possibilities if there are interesting proposals either for the sale of its share in EPSA or for the acquisition of all the shares.

Breaking the 100 million euro barrier

With sales of 70% in water and 30% in soft drinks, Vikos’ turnover is expected to break the 100 million euro barrier this year from 91.4 million euro in 2021, a year in which it recorded an increase of 16, 4% compared to 2020.

Pre-tax profits in 2021 amounted to 13.68 million euros, reduced by 12.64%, as there was absorption of a significant part of the increase in operating costs (price rise in raw materials, transport and energy).

It is noted, however, that the decline in profitability did not have a negative impact on jobs, which were protected, as demonstrated by the average staff (449 employees).

Investments of 47 million euros

Vikos invested 47 million euros in the last seven years, of which 22 million in the two years 2021 – 2022, in total the company has 4 water and soft drinks bottling factories, as well as a factory for the production of preforms for PET bottles and caps, having in essence fully vertically integrated production.

The total production capacity of the 32 lines it has in its factories amounts to 421,000 bottles per hour.

It should be noted that two production lines for soft drinks in glass packaging (20,000 bottles per hour) and aluminum (42,000 aluminum cans per hour) have been installed in the new factory.

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