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A DURable Greek Success Story Expanding Overseas
by Kelly Fanarioti
DUR is a high quality men’s clothing company that made its name synonymous with elegance and healthy entrepreneurship. The company got started in Patras about half a century ago and has been dressing men ever since who want to stand out for their style, finesse and class.
DUR’s story began when the founder of the company, Mr. Nikos Douros, started marketing cotton items. Soon his brothers Panagiotis and Andreas came into the business and in 1960 the family business, “Nikos Douros And Brothers,” was born: a company that manufactured and marketed men’s underwear and socks. Throughout the 1970s, the company expanded into exports, making it one of the country’s largest exporters in the industry, and also a steady partner of well-known foreign firms.
In the early 1980s, the new name and logo “DUR” was born and the company created a broad wholesale network, consolidating its brand name in quality-branded outfits. At the same time, the company has expanded its brand identity with exclusive collaborations with foreign fashion houses, such as ‘PACO RABANE – Paris’, ‘Cavallini – Italy’. In 1992 the company opened its first store outside Achaia in Athens. Then in 2000 the company took the big step and entered the Athens Stock Exchange.
As the CEO of the company, Mr. Thodoros Douros, explains το ΝΕΟ, a prerequisite for establishing a company outside the borders of the country is to gain the confidence of domestic consumers. ”Cloth, as one of the most competitive products, is more difficult than other items, such as food, to be placed in shop windows and on the shelves of countries abroad. In particular, the difficulty is that some countries have established fashion houses producing their own clothes. So to ensure your presence abroad, you must be established within your own borders and be winning in the domestic market.”
He says, “Because DUR has a 50-year history, the company felt ready to make its presence felt abroad and now it is exporting to Albania, Cyprus and Sofia, Bulgaria.”
How did the company survive in such tough economic times in Greece? According to Mr. Douros, the company’s steady approach and tradition of quality have protected it from market fluctuations and uncertainty.
”Of course, we felt the consequences of the crisis in part, but we managed to stay at a steady level thanks to the continuous investment in quality, fresh ideas, the two-way relationship of trust with the consumer and the genuine people who make up our team, and which give new air to creativity and more impetus to achieve the company’s goals.”
Only, in recent years the negative climate of the Greek crisis has put severe pressure on the textile industry, and on the production and marketing of ready-made clothing, as more and more consumers turn to international clothing chains to find clothes at discount prices.
”External factors, apart from internal ones such as lack of liquidity and shrinking consumer spending, are found in imports from low-cost countries and the prevalence of multinational giants. In this difficult and challenging environment, the ‘padlocks’ on the doors of the Greek label clothing stores are increasing,” Mr. Douros explains. “And they are being replaced by multinational stores on the main shopping streets. Nevertheless, Greek businesses must be oriented towards the change they want and need. Greek clothing companies cannot easily achieve volume gain, but they can be differentiated and distinguished in terms of quality and product proposals.”
He says, ”The emphasis on original design, timeless style, and quality are the key to survival and success. A philosophy that DUR has faithfully and timely adopted, maintaining the steady course of the business despite sweeping changes in the garment market in recent years. In this way, the value of the brand ‘Made in Greece’ will be strengthened and new momentum will be given to the Greek business and the Greek economy”.
At the same time, he says a new approach is needed in the way Greek entrepreneurs work as a whole. ”It is imperative for Greek companies to think of business abroad, on the one hand with exports and on the other with dialogue and cooperation. This will lay the foundations for new outlooks on innovation and growth, through synergies and communication bridges.”
Having established and maintained a successful brand over the turbulence of decades, I could not resist asking Mr. Douros what advice he would give to a new person wanting to set up his own business in the Greece of 2018.
There is no specific recipe for success, he points out, except for being flexible. “Someone who wants to set up a business today must be ready to risk, not to be disappointed, and above all, to love what he does. At the same time, the perception of the circumstances and adaptability, continuous innovation and respect for the consumer are key elements that set the basis for healthy business with prospects for growth and gradual advancement in your market.”