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Alexis Nicolaides
18 Navpliou Street
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Eleven years ago Alexis Nicolaides decided to start a wine sales business. His father, proprietor of a successful business dealing in floral décor, was sorry his son didn’t want to go into his enterprise, but gave him every support. The business was called Alexis & Nicolas and a first endeavour was to work with the Vouni-Panayia winery to produce a special red wine called Diana. It wasn’t bad and sold well.

Working within limited funds, Alexis turned to the Internet for information and contacts, searching for good wine makers not represented in Cyprus. He was attracted to a large producer-negociant in Burgundy, Michel Picard and contacted him. It was a wise and a lucky choice – Picard, who had developed a small family business into a very large one is a man of incredible energy and enterprise who has a generous spirit which actively encourages and supports others making their way. Intrigued by Alexis’ approach, he came to Cyprus, was impressed with the embryonic importer and gave Alexis his agency. This was, and is, a formidable portfolio ranging from Grand Cru Burgundians to good-value table wines. Picard was launched in Cyprus in 1999.

The Internet struck again when Alexis isolated the Chilean producer Montes, who negotiated and agreed on a deal by Email. Four men founded this Chilean icon just 20 years ago, with the eponymous Aurelio Montes heading the winemaking. To say that this man is one of the very top winemakers in the world is no exaggeration. The wines have become great favourites both “Ontrade” and “Off-trade” in Cyprus.

As in all businesses, Alexis had good times and bad. 2003 marked the end of some bad, when he had more inspiration, not Internet generated this time! Deciding to regroup and re-start, he found a large basement premises in the street of the Polyclinic in Limassol not far from Pentadromos and decided to open up Cyprus’s first “Wine Warehouse” – a hugely successful UK wine marketing phenomenon, in which the customer takes a basket or a trolley and walks around a big area populated by wine in racks, boxes, cartons and bins, all well labeled and described to make his or her selection. Prices are competitive.

Oenoforos took off, and not just with the public, but with the hotel and catering trade. Hard work ruled. It’s a small team: just Alexis, office manager Maria and sales man Yiannis, with part-time help from Alexis’s wife Christina (who also has their three young children to contend with).

Alexis is a proud man – proud, rightly, of his achievement; he started with just 8,000 Cyprus Pounds and today has stocks, which are continuously moving through, worth many hundreds of thousands of Euros. But he has humility too, in recognising the help he has had from family, friends and co-workers. He is fulsome in his gratitude to Michel Picard.

“He took me on”, he says, “I went to France in 2000 to train with him, his people and his winemakers. I learned from him. I still do. He’s a great man”.

Whilst Di

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