Companies in the Balkans -II (1874-1900)

Blerim Abedini, Institute for Security Studies and Development, ISSD-NM

The Early modern era was a time of mercantilism, nationalism, and international trade. After the voyages of Christopher Columbus brought new opportunities for trade with the America and Asia.

The commercial revolution in Europe continued with imports of luxury goods from eastern and southern Asia by passing the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. From the 1600s, the centers of commerce and manufactures shifted from the Mediterranean to the centers of the western Atlantic. Economic decline in 17th century was seen in Italy and Turkey and advantage seen for Portugal, Spain, France, the Dutch Republic and England/Britain. In eastern Europe, Russia expanded commerce in luxury furs from Siberia and rivalled the Scandinavian and German states in the Baltic. Colonial goods like sugar and tobacco from the Americas came to play a role in the European economy. So, changes in the financial practices, the second agricultural revolution and technological innovations in Western Europe fostered the beginnings of the industrial revolution.

The Industrial Revolution in England and Scotland, 1750s to 1830s brought factories for railroads, coal mining and businesses that used new technologies . The growth rate in the British GDP was 1.5% per year (1770–1815), doubling to 3.0% (1815–1831). France and the U.S. experienced its industrial revolution in the early 19th century; Germany in the 19th century; and to Russia in the early-mid 20th century. Success in building larger steam engines after 1790 year res ulted with decreasing of the cost energy.

According to a report published by the Bank of Korea in 2008 that looked at 41 countries, there were 5,586 companies older than 200 years. Of these, 3,146 (56%) are in Japan, 837 (15%) in Germany, 222 (4%) in the Netherlands, and 196 (3%) in France.

Companies in the Balkans (1874-1900)

1874 year. Pyrkal (Greek: Πυρκάλ) is one of the oldest defence industries in and the main producer of ammunition and explosives in the country. The company “Elliniko Pyritidopoieio A.E.” (Greek Powder, Chemical and Industrial products) was founded in 1874, and “Maltsiniotis Brothers” (Cartridges and metal products) in 1887. The merger of the two companies in 1908 was done to overcome an odd competition. Internationally has been known as “Greek Powder and Cartridge Company”. Additional activities including arms manufacture, construction of machinery (including Diesel engines), vehicle bodies, tools, factory infrastructure, boilers, aircraft, etc. The end of the War found the company in ruins, with equipment and material looted by retreating German forces. The machines were almost completely destroyed. The rebirth of Pyrkal started with producing metal products and consumer items, but it recovered fast to its pre-War status. Pyrkal was hurt further by the loss of traditional export markets in the 1970s. The state intervened in the early 1980s. In 1982 Pyrkal, was nationalized. The company has nonetheless invested in Research & Development, by participation in programs like the Stinger missile European post-production program and, as an equal partner, in the development and production of the IRIS-T missile, and constructed Greek-designed modern wind generators in 2002. The company had merged with EBO in 2004, to eliminate the odd competition between the two companies for state orders, forming EAS.

1880 year. The name BENRUBI for the Greek consumer, as well as trader business, is a synonym of guarantee and credibility. Products as IZZY Multi, IZZY Green Toast, IZZY Elea, IZZY Caffeccino, IZZY Milano, IZZY spicy red, IZZY crème, ΙΖΖΥ Beauty and Grooming and now IZZY Havana.

1882 year. Kouppas, Achilleas Kouppas Machine Manufacturing A.E., has historically been the most famous Greek industrial machinery and equipment manufacturer, founded in Piraeus in 1882. Areas of specialization include oil refinery equipment (utilized in ventures in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia and Congo) and boilers. In 1972 it introduced a 14-tonne road roller model, powered by a Skoda diesel engine. Kouppas was seriously affected by the 1980s crisis in Greek industry, so it ceased operations in 1987 (105 years after its foundation). In 1995 its facilities were acquired by BIEX Metal Constructions A.E. and Procter & Gamble Hellas A.E

1883 year. Chropei- Piraeus Dye Works, was chemical company. It was founded in 1883 by chemists Spilios and Leontios Economides and has traditionally been a major synthetic dye and pharmaceuticals manufacturer. In 1975 they proposed two types of guns(rifle and submachine gun) to the Military of Greece. Chropei was virtually bankrupt when it was nationalized in the 1980s with its name changed to ELVIPY- Greek Health Products Company but few years later due to financial crisesit was closed in 1995.

1886 year. Prapopoulos Bros s.a. is a privately owned company involved in the production and distribution of agricultural, industrial and vineyard equipment based in Patras, Greece. The company was founded in 1886 by Constantine and George Prapopoulos and in 1929 and became an Anonumous Company (acronym S.A.). The company engaged itself with the manufacture of crop sprayers, pins, nails, cutlery, aluminum utensils, portable gas cookers and other metallic products. With the outbreak of the Second World War the factory was bombarded by the Italian Air Force. It remained in operation manufacturing caravans and canteens for the needs of the Greek Army up to the arrival of German troops in Patras in the spring of 1941. After the war the factory continued to operate normally, although with some problems concerning disputes between its shareholders, and in 1977 moved to new premises 2,500 m2 in the outskirts of Patras. In 2006 it was awarded the Special Organizers Prize of the 21st Agrotica Exhibition in Thessaloniki, commemorating this time 120 years of business.

The company is currently employed in the manufacture and sale of plant protection equipment (sprayers), garden tools, stainless steel containers for storing liquid foods and wine-making equipment for the amateur winemaker. Many of the construction activities are currently being outsourced but and the company still manufactures in house the traditional line of copper sprayers. It also keeps in house and the final stages of assembly and quality control of its products. In recent years, the company operates outside of Greece, Cyprus, Macedonia and Albania.

1888 year. Karelia Tobacco Company Inc. (Karelia) is an international tobacco company headquartered in the city of Kalamata, Greece. It is also the country’s largest tobacco manufacturer and exporter of fine tobacco products. Karelia brands are sold in more than 65 countries around the globe in Western and Eastern Europe, the Far East, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and Africa. Its brands include George Karelias and Sons, Karelia Slims, Omé, Karelia Family, Karelia Royal, Rex, American Legend and Leader. The Company produces an average of 15 billion cigarettes per year and employs approximately 500 people worldwide. Karelia has a primary listing on the Athens Stock Exchange (KARE). In the year 2000, Karelia ended its cooperation with Japan Tobacco International, in order to concentrate on developing its own trademark brands. In 2003, the company established a subsidiary in the UK called Karelia Tobacco Company (UK) Ltd. for the distribution of its brands in that market. In 2007, the subsidiary in Bulgaria was upgraded to a commercial import company called Karelia Bulgaria EOOD, and then its subsidiary GK Distributors EOOD was established. In 2008, a subsidiary was established in Turkey, called Karelia Tütün ve Tiçaret A.S. In that same year, Karelia acquired the Backwoods cigar brand from Altadis S.A., for the Greek domestic and duty free markets. Today, Karelia Tobacco Company is Greece’s largest cigarette manufacturer and exporter. It operates offices all over Greece, and distributes its brands to a sales network covering more than 26,000 points of sale. Its current annual sales turnover is 876 million euros.

1890 year. Bouhagier Patras (Μπουχάγιερ Πάτραι) or Buhayer Patras was considered to be the longest-lived vehicle body manufacturer in Greece. It was founded in 1890 and dissolved in 2004. The name Bouhagier was the corrupted version of the name of a Maltese (name : Bouhagiar) family who had settled in Greece. The company was founded in Patras by Tzamaría (Ioannis Maria) Bouhagier, who was born on the island of Cephalonia, and developed by his sons, was one of the most respected builders of horse-drawn carriages. In the early 1920s it began the construction of motor vehicle (car, bus and various truck) bodies, and eventually concentrated on buses. Bouhagier has built an extended range of bus models on a variety of chassis and modifications were occasionally done to accommodate different body lengths. The company, like all Greek bus manufacturers, suffered a major blow in the 1980s when the Greek market was flooded with used imports. Since the 1990s its activities were essentially reduced to body repairs until it went out of business a few years later.

1893 year. Over time, two Greek banks have been named the Bank of Athens. Both had their headquarters in Athens, Greece. The first Bank of Athens was founded in 1893 and operated in the Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean until its acquisition by the National Bank of Greece in 1953. In 1993, the second Bank of Athens was founded, and merged with Eurobank Ergasias in 1999. Subsidiaries of the Bank of Athens have been incorporated into foreign financial entities. Some banks in the US have incorporated the phrase, “Bank of Athens” in their name.

1900 year. TT Hellenic Postbank (formerly the Greek Postal Savings Bank, Greek: Ταχυδρομικό Ταμιευτήριο Tachidromiko Tamieftirio) was a commercial bank based in Athens, in Greece. The bank’s license was withdrawn in January 2013 and it was put into liquidation. See the link: