For over 70 years the name ION has become the generic name for chocolate in Greece due to the company’s adhesion to quality, innovation and the special taste of its products.
A group of shareholders back in 1930 start a factory for the production of chocolate at Piraeus street, New Faliro. Their ambition was to become ‘chocolate makers’. The first company statute of ION S.A. was published on the 267/23.9.1930 section of the “Greek Government Proceedings Newspaper”.
Some years later we have the creation of a second company, ‘NASKO S.A.’ specializing in the production of sugar confectionery products. The NASKO brand name characterized, and still characterizes, a number of sugar confectionery products, such as the NASKO fruit filled caramels and the assorted caramel range.
The foundation, however, of the company’s current size and importance as the leading chocolate brand in Greece, was created after the 2nd World War. Initially the trading company ‘I. Kotsiopouloi Bros. S.A.’ was established (1956) to undertake the sales and distribution of both ION S.A. and NASKO S.A. With the company headquarters at Piraeus and its first factory outlet on the commercial centre of Athens (43c Athinas street) the newly established company provided the blueprint for today’s sales and distribution network.
Later on, ION incorporates NASKO to take the form that currently has with wide production capabilities of chocolate and sugar confectionery. Gradually, the company expanded into other snack and confectionery segments such as chewing gum, chocolate/ hazelnut spreads and wafers.
Some of the important facts that have marked the company’s development and expansion over the years include considerable investment in Arta (city in the north of Greece), where a new wafer production line was established and the creation of a very modern line for pre-packed croissants.
The acquisition of Interia, a specialist producer of hazelnut spreads under the brand name of Nucrema, (photo Nucrema) provided ION with the opportunity to enter the spreads market. The acquisition of the Mabel chocolate manufacturers (1999), a specialist manufacturer of pralines and festive/ seasonal chocolate products (Christmas, Easter etc.), is a further step in the company’s expansion in the confectionery sector.
ION S.A., especially in the last 40 years where it remains the leader of the Greek chocolate market, has introduced a number of innovations in different fields such as new products, systems and processes, communication and public relations and contributions to the local community. The company was the first to introduce in the Greek market a milk chocolate with almonds which has become the most popular chocolate bar in Greece. ‘ION Amigdalou’ remains the leading chocolate brand for over four decades. (photo ION amygdalou).
The ‘Break’ chocolate bar series were the first square bars ever introduced by a Greek manufacturer, with innovative easy to open pack and a wide range of different fillings.
A number of other products can be mentioned for their characteristics, packaging or even the way they were communicated and promoted to the consumer. A good example is the well-known ’ION Ygeias’ caramel (photo 7420), one of the first caramels in Greece for the throat or the ‘Safari’ wafer for children (photo Safari) with a collection of cards with pictures from the jungle. There are a number of other initiatives, such as consumer competitions, collections and prizes to be mentioned.
Innovation, however, does not end in the products or their promotion. During the 60s and 70s ION was one of the first food producers in Greece to use, in considerable scale, advertising – first printed in magazines and newspapers and later on, with the expansion of television, TV commercials (a selection of advertising material can be found at the ION Gallery section).
Even the way the trading company ‘I. Kotsiopouloi Bros.’ organized its distribution network and customer service proved to be a leap forward for the Greek reality of the 60s. With three fully owned distribution centers in Athens, Thessaloniki and Volos, owned network of sales force and sales representatives, the company is able to reach the whole Greek market. Exports are another area with a steady increase having as primary target the markets of Eastern Europe, Arabic World and North America.
ION has now two modern production units (Athens and Arta), of large-scale production capacity and facilities for quality control and R&D. With a total workforce of over 950 people and turnover nearing 105 million EUROS (2010), the company is positioned among the 50 largest industries in Greece.
The company takes special care for the training and good health of its people by running a variety of seminars and maintaining a fully equipped infirmary and social worker service. In addition, the company often organizes social events for the entertainment of the workforce