A pioneer in the business market in the Balkans
Jean Valvis is a Greek businessman. He owns Valvis Group in Romania. He is the President and General Manager of Valvis Holding and Vice-President of AOAR (The Romanian Entrepreneurs’ Association).
They call him “Mr Dorna”, as he was the man behind the iconic advertisement of Dorna water, which went viral in our Greece. Even today, we use the phrase from the ad “You don’t drink water, you drink velvet!”.
The guiding principle of Valvis Holding, tracing its development path as from the first day of its establishment, is “environmentally friendly business”. In other words, “eco business”. Being a staunch supporter of green farming, Valvis Holding has set as a target to turn the Carpathians into an ecological farming center, and it has reached its goal.
Jean Valvis was born in July 16, 1954 in Athens, Greece. His grandfather, Yannis, was born in Santorini and left the island in 1905, to go to Africa. Jean Valvis’ father was born in Sudan and Jean grew up between Jeneva, Athens and Bucharest.
The Group’s core business guidelines covered by the same “green” concept are the following: Naturally sparkling natural mineral water AQUA Carpatica, wine production and selected production of organic wines Domeniile Samburesti, organic cereal farming under the LaDORNA brand name and the Group preserving related intellectual property rights after the sale to Lactalis Group (Dorna Agri). One of the Group’s current goals is to development of renewable energy integrated project, such as photovoltaic and biomass energy AgroElectrica & Terra Muntenia. The Group’s turnover arises to 50 million Euro and the human resources involved comprise 500 persons.
The industrial and business activity of Valvis Holding was launched in 1994 with the establishment of DORNA APEMIN SA, a joint venture company with Greek, Romanian and Swiss equity participation. Its scope of activity covered the naturally sparkly natural mineral water gushing out of the Dorna spring to be found in an area which bears the same name. It goes without saying that the trading name of this water could not be other than “Dorna”. During 1996-1999, three mineral water brands have been created (on three different sites Dorna, Poiana Negri and Izvorul Alb) in Vatra Dornei, Suceava County. The Valvis Holding Group has operated and developed its activities in industrial processing of agricultural products and in the dairy industry since 1998, when the first green field milk processing plant was built near Dorna Candreni, Suceava County. The company, the commercial rights on the source and the brand were sold to The Coca Cola Company, in 2002.
As from its establishment, Dorna Lactate SA had focused on green development. Thus, in 2000, the certification procedures for organic farming in the pristine areas of the Carpathian Mountains were initiated and the production and dairy farming under the “LaDORNA BIO” brand name started later on. Shortly afterwards, the Group decided to invest in EUROFARMS, a program supporting organic farmers, in order to offer more organic milk of premium quality. The Group chose the Carpathian Mountains since there are thousands of square kilometres of hills and plateaus which, because of the geographical settings and economic scarcity (there were no tractors or money for fertilizers and pesticides), have not been touched by any misconceived technical achievements. This is where free grazing cows produce organic milk, supervised by hundreds of small producers. Both their animals and the whole production process are, controlled by the largest certification organization for organic products in Europe, “BCS ÖKO GUARANTIE” established in Nuremberg Germany. The irrefutable witness to the absolute purity of this land is nature itself: wild bears and wild boars live in the Carpathian Mountains, showing that chemicals have not spoiled it.
LADORNA GROUP became one of the top leading businesses that make a difference in the foodstuff industry in Romania, while LaDORNA brand name acquired an excellent reputation, on both local and international markets. Its success story attracted the French multinational company, Lactalis Group, which acquired Dorna Lactate S.A. in 2008.
Dorna Hellas S.A. has operated in foodstuff trading since 2000 in Greece, having exclusive distribution rights to DORNA naturally sparkling natural mineral water, as well as SPRING, a series three different fruit flavoured refreshments based on sparkling natural mineral water. Dorna Apemin S.A. was later on sold to “Coca Cola 3E S.A.”
The company’s success paved the way for its dairy industry launching. In 2005 DORNA HELLAS took on import and distribution of LaDORNA organic milk, produced by LaDORNA Group of Romania. Shortly after, Dorna Hellas S.A. made of LaDORNA organic milk the leader in Greek organic milk market, surpassing all difficulties in the sector. Before 2007 was over, following a series of profitable trade agreements, Dorna Hellas enhanced its position on the dairy market, and committed itself to offer high quality dairy products of real nutritional value, while its ultimate goal remained to contribute to a more natural, healthier, better and well-balanced daily diet. In 2008, Dorna Hellas S.A. was acquired by the French group Lactalis S.A., as an integral part of Dorna Lactate S.A.
Samburesti is a blessed land protected by the Carpathian Mountains and the Olt River. This land has been inhabited and cultivated since ancient times. It is by far the region with the longest historical tradition in wine production, especially for the Cabernet Sauvignon variety. Other varieties produced in the area:Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Feteasca Neagra.
Like many other state owned companies, Viti Pomicola Samburesti winery, was shaken by the turbulent transition period of 1990-2005. It knew a long period of decline, detrimental management, permanent lack of development funds and continuous internal fights among its shareholders. All these impaled the company’s image and the Samburesti wine was almost completely forgotten. In 2005 Valvis Holding Group started to invest in Viti-Pomicola Samburesti, which covers an area of 500 hectares of vineyards and 500 hectares of fruit trees. With an investment program of more than 14,5 million euros, the Samburesti wine came back to life. The whole vineyard area was upgraded, the wine making complex was renovated, a new modern bottling line was built and a standard irrigation system was made available.
This investment, worth 9 million euros, was earmarked for the restoration of the wine’s legacy. The cellar was completely renovated, more than 4 million were invested in the production line, storage and bottling equipment. An additional 1,5 million euros investment was made in the renewal of the agricultural machinery fleet.
The Samburesti wine won international recognition in the past. It is considered to rank among the best red wines in the world, title won for the first time in Paris in 1891. Since then, it has attracted 47 gold and 30 silver medals in international wine competitions. A whole range of wines launched in 2009, covering the following varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Feteasca Alba, Chardonnay, Merlot were launched.
During 2010 and 2014 they launched a high range of wines: Domeniile Samburesti Roze, Rouge de Roumanie, Feteasca Neagra and Pinot Noir with international professional expertise.
In 2009, only seven years after the sale of Dorna naturally sparkling natural mineral water to Coca Cola, Valvis Holding Group started to operate again in this business sector, building “AQUA Carpatica”, Premium brand, targeting Romanian as well as international market. AQUA Carpatica is the purest naturally sparkling natural mineral water in the world. This high quality water has no equal. In only 5 year from launching, AQUA Carpatica is the best selling and growing flat mineral water on the market. The absence of nitrate and nitrogen dioxide is the main characteristic of this unique, exceptional water.
On the international market, it will be available in restaurants and other four star catering places where water is treated more like wine and its flavor is much appreciated.
As part of the integrated Eco Business philosophy, Valvis Holding develops the organic cereals farming under the LaDORNA brand name (LaDORNA Cereals), on the Danube Island near Calarasi (border with Bulgaria), where the Group is controlling over 8000 ha agricultural land.
With LaDORNA Cereals, Dorna Agri, member of Valvis Holding, is targeting national as well as international markets, bringing to consumers Premium health oriented organic products.
Valvis Holding Group has already begun negotiations on an investment in Greece, developing renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic and wind energy. Valvis Holding is controlling via one of its subsidiaries a land of over 8000 ha agricultural field on one of the Danube islands near Calarasi, on the Bulgarian border. The island will accommodate the energy crops cultivation together with the solar panels and biomass power plant.
Corporate social responsibility
In the context of corporate social responsibility of the Group, several actions have been taken to help society sectors in need.
-Monastery of Profitis Ilias Santorini – financial support made by Ioannis Christos VALVIS FOUNDATION as working capital for the wine production and the rehabilitation studies of the monastery
-Children with Disabilities UNICEF Program
Having special consideration for the children with special needs, the Group has fostered this relevant UNICEF program since 2002.
-Encouraging children to experience the spirit of the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games. As part of its cooperation both with the Romanian Olympic Committee and the Romanian Olympic Foundation, the Group offered 20 children and their parents the opportunity to participate in the major sports event of ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games.
-Supporting breast cancer fighting program
The Fighting Breast Cancer’ program launched by the independent, non-governmental, non-profit organisation ‘RENASTEREA BOTOSANEANA’ (Information, Culture and Health Foundation, was endorsed by LaDORNA GR Associations of Greek- Romanian citizens (Iasi, Galati, Braila)
-Regular financial support for old people living in Greek communities in Romania, since 2000 until nowadays
-CRINA Foundation Program : A program involving donation of dairy products, on a monthly basis, for the children of CRINA foundation. The Group’s contribution started in 2006.
-Supporting 450 children from Valea Plopului, program involving product donations, since 2011
-Valvis Class in Iasi, scholarship program for gifted children living in disadvantaged rural socio-economic circumstances, since 2008
-EUROFARMS program, Romania: Social contribution to the drawing up and submission of a bill, which was adopted by the Romanian Parliament to grant subsidies to farmers and growers to join the EUROFARMS program. OUP.
He was Vice President to the Romanian professional football club, Rapid, for a short period of time.
Awards and Distinctions
- 2016 The FORBES Magazine – The Most Successful Consecutive Entrepreneurship
- 2016 BIZ Magazine – The Value of Romania Prize
- 2010 The Business Review Magazine – Annual Investment Awards – Entrepreneur of the Year
- 2006 Bucharest Business Week – Swiss Leadership Awards – Most Admired Swiss Business Person
- 2004 Capital Magazine– Oskar Award- The Businessman of the Year
- 2004 Cross of Moldavia, Medal granted by His Beatitude Daniel, the Metropolitan of Moldavia and Bucovina, award given for the protection and care shown to the environment and for creating the new working places
- 2002 Ziarul Financiar (Financial Newspaper) – Leaders – People that shake the market – Award for Excellency
- 2001 Bucharest Business Week – Swiss Leadership Award – Entrepreneur of the Year