Jean Valvis is a Swiss national of Greek origin, he lived and studied in Switzerland and Greece, but also in France (where he attended the famous Sorbonne University) and has several architect diplomas.
For about a quarter of a century he lives mainly in Romania where he operates in a totally different field than the one he studied for. His name is closely linked to some of the most famous local brands.
The story of Jean Valvis in our country begins in 1994 when he invested in the manufacturer of mineral water Dorna Apemin. In the coming years he built three factories for bottling mineral water in the Suceava area (Dorna, Poiana Negri, Izvorul Alb) and also laid the foundations of his dairy company Dorna, with factories in Dorna Candreni and Vatra Dornei and a subsidiary in Athens. In short time the LaDorna brand, under which 85 different products (milk, yogurts, cheeses) were marketed, became one of the most popular and appreciated by consumers.
Jean Valvis has always shown he is a man who knows how to identify an opportunity. So, in 2002, he failed to say no the offer of Coca Cola and cashed nearly EU 40 million for the mineral water division. The investment of the American giant proved to be an inspired one, as Dorna products filled leading positions over many years in the top of the specizlized brands.
A second successful exit took place in 2008 when Valvis sold, for an estimated amount of EUR 70 to 90 million, the dairy division to the French company Lactalis. The acquisition proved once again successful, LaDorna remaining one of the most powerful brands on the market. Some would have taken the money and retire on a tropical beach. But such a life seems to not fit Valvis.
Following the two deals the businessman did not even think for a moment to abandon Romania and the food industry, but made the resulitng funds available for other investments. At first he focused on Viti-Pomicola Sâmburești, a company he had bought in 2006 which launched in 2009 the Château Valvis, Domeniile Sâmburești and Sâmburel de Olt wines. After ten years these brands have become famous and are distributed by both major retail chains and small shops. Around 5% of the production goes to export, reaching Europe, but even Asia or South America.
Another bet that appears to be a winner is the area of agriculture and eco energy where Valvis‘s business is conducted through Dorna Agri, a company founded in the last decade of last year. The company operates on about 10,000 hectares of land in Roseți, Călăraşi county. A few years ago there were rumours that the entrepreneur was also going to sell Dorna Agri, but for now the talks with those interested are not yet completed.
Clean water and marketing
The most recent brand launched by Valvis is also the most famous and most successful. It is the Aqua Carpatica mineral water which the entrepreneur launched on the market in 2011 which quickly turned into one of the best sold in its range. „There were two elements that led to the success of the brand. First was the chance to discover the water spring in Romania that has the main feature of a zero nitrate concentration and second the determined decision to allot a huge budget, namely 50% of the turnover, for marketing. There is no brand, there is no consolidation to the value of the product if you do not make it possible for the consumer to see something different on the market”, Jean Valvis recently said during the Romanian Brands event.
Jean Valvis also revealed some details of the fulminant evolution of sales: „In 2011, the first year of our presence on the market, we sold 16 million liters. In 2012 sales increased to 55 million liters, plus somewhere around 10 million liters in outstanding orders.“ The local market alone proved not enough. Gradually, the mineral water extracted and bottled at the foothills of the Carpathian mountains has reached numerous external markets, such as the United States, Japan, China, Australia, Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Spain or Germany. Starting with the fall of 2017 it is also to be found in many Tesco hypermarkets in the United Kingdom.
110 million euros might be the overall value of Valvis’s exits from Dorna Apemin and Dorna Lactate, the two companies founded in Suceava in the nineties
There is no brand, there is no consolidation to the value of the product if you do not make it possible for the consumer to see something different on the market.