His beginnings, his family, his Foundation… Sir Stelios reveals himself in a great interview

The Monegasque native and founder of easyJet spoke at length about the origins of his company, but also about his very special relationship with the Principality.

I wanted to prove it that I wasn’t just my father’s son. The Irish newspaper writes with this quote Business Post It headlined a great interview with Sir Stelios published on December 3rd.

The lengthy exchange, which took place during a visit to Ireland by the Monegasque and his family, took the founder of EasyJet back to the company’s beginnings, as well as the expansion of Easy in Europe and many charities.

It wasn’t always easyrecalling the businessman’s beginnings. It was very stressful and very risky and I didn’t sleep much during that time. Fortunately, it worked. But I still think you should use PR to advertise a new business. Going it alone is too expensive. »

If Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannu had no qualms about mobilizing certain resources to build his empire, there was no question of taking advantage of his family’s comfortable position. Because Loucas Haji-Ioannou, the father of the Athens-born entrepreneur, also founded his own business called Troodos in the 1990s.

Create a famous brand

Troodos Shipping, considered the owner of the world’s largest independent fleet, has more than 50 tankers or tankers, making Sir Stelios’ father one of Europe’s wealthiest entrepreneurs. But a simple inheritance was not an option for the founder of easyJet. You had to think bigger and make your mark above all else.

When I was twenty years old, I was guided by only two motives. First: to prove to my father and to the world that I am not just my father’s son by pretending that my father is very successful. (…) I was determined to prove myself in another sector. Then I wanted to create a brand that would become famous. Our family business was shipping and since it was a B2B business [Business to Business, d’un commerce à l’autre, ndlr], no one knew what I was doing. I started my first shipping company when I was 20, it was called Stelmar Tankers, but it was also B2B, so I didn’t become famous. That’s why I decided to create a brand known all over the world. That’s what I wanted “says the businessman.

With this decision, Sir Stelios launched easyJet in 1995: an airline It will offer flights within Britain for the same price as jeans. “Revolution.

After 28 years, the easyJet brand has grown to take on some of its European rivals, which cannot compete with such attractive fares. But for Sir Stelios, it was above all an opportunity to build a more global brand: “ Starting with an airline is a good way to build a brandhe explains. Millions and millions of people use it every year. A year before the outbreak of Covid-19, easyJet carried 96 million passengers. »

Grow an empire easy

An epidemic with no consequences for the airline forces health restrictions. Article by Business Post recalls that in September 2021, easyJet raised more than a billion pounds to recover financially from Covid through a share issue. Today, the Haji-Ioannou family still owns 15% of the company’s shares, worth around £450m of the company’s three billion share market cap.

After such a crisis Business Post of course asked Sir Stelios about his post-covid vision for air travel: “ I believe that leisure travel will return to normal very soon. But it can be different for business trips. I know it’s always risky to try to predict the future, but maybe all these meetings we’re having through Teams or Zoom will change things. »

But the easy group has more than one trick. Witness many other subsidiaries such as easyHotel, easyCar, easyMoney or easyStorage. As summarized by the Irish newspaper, the concept is simple: any company from any sector can apply for an easy license for a product or service brand. In return for this visibility, the company must pay easyGroup.

My best idea was to start a low-cost airline. My second best idea was to keep the name ‘easy’ for my own company so I could expand the brand and retain ownership of the name. sir Stelios comments before discussing one of his greatest prides: easyHotel, which he considers the most logical extension of the brand.

I think it’s a good brand. And it’s a company that institutional investors and private equity funds readily invest in to build hotels in disguise. », Sir Stelios exults, stating that around fifty hotels are currently being built or under construction, mainly in Dublin.

A very personal story with Monaco

It also seems that the entrepreneur did not choose Ireland for his visit by chance, since it is the birthplace of his partner Orla Murphy, his first time in … Monaco!

The article explains that the two met during a Grand Prix dinner at Sir Stelios’ Monegasque residence. Orla Murphy moved to the Principality in 2008 where she worked as a sales manager for an interior design company specializing in yachting and private aviation. The two had a daughter, now four-and-a-half years old, who was born two days after the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix.

Among the many causes supported by Sir Stelios are many memories and links explaining why some are in the Principality. The article also concludes with a few words about the entrepreneur’s philanthropic actions. Because since 2011, the Stelios Fund has mobilized half of the businessman’s income.

I work almost 60 hours a week, every week of the year, even at Christmas. I try to divide these 60 hours into three parts. (…) I dedicate the last part to returning what I have received to the society. easyGroup’s income allows me to give back to charity on a regular basis. I really think that if you’ve been lucky enough to make money in your life, you should give some of it back to society, so I signed a pledge. »

Confirming promise to bequeath half of Sir Stelios’ fortune to his Foundation after his death. ” So it’s not just a great gift, describes. This will provide an opportunity to carefully invest the Fund’s investment, earn income, and spend it on good deeds.. I hope they can continue to do good in my name by donating enough funds to my Foundation. This will be my legacy. I think what matters is how you are remembered. You have a duty to do good for the rest of your life, but I decided to set up my foundation so that my help to society will continue after me. »

Therefore, the help expressed in different ways, for example, the fight against hunger in Greece, the fight for peace in Cyprus, where his parents are, or more recently in Greece, Cyprus, Great Britain and gifts to hospital workers. Monaco during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Various reasons, but with a common thread: the supported countries are those with Sir Stelios’ personal history: ” some problems are very large and geographically distant. We prefer to support the four or five countries where I have spent part of my life “, he concludes.

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