Leonidas – Over 100 Years Of Fine Belgian Chocolate In Business

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It’s no secret that women worldwide love chocolate for its health benefits, rumoured aphrodisiac qualities and sheer sensual indulgence.
Cue Leonidas, the Belgian chocolate brand whose name encompasses freshness, family teamwork, and future vision. Though Leonidas’ founder was a man, women have had managerial and strategic sales input (Madame Nitza included) throughout its history.

Leonidas’ worldwide success includes patronage by royalty and the late Elizabeth Taylor. This is unsurprising, since Leonidas use only 100% fresh (not frozen) ingredients sourced from around the globe for authenticity.
It was all started by the great Greek Leonidas Kestekides, who first traded in “granita” (a sort of ice sorbet) and other confectionary in his native town of Nigde, Anatolia. Aged 18 he moved to Italy to become a wine merchant and when this didn’t work out he crossed the Atlantic to make his fortune in the land of Uncle Sam, the Promised Land at that time. There he resumed his former Nigde profession of artisan confectioner and pastry chef and began making a name for himself. In 1910, Leonidas took part in the Brussels World’s Exhibition as a member of the Greek delegation. He presented his confectionery and pastry creations under his own name and they were highly successful – he was awarded a bronze medal.

In 1913 a gold medal and commemorative diploma followed at the International Exhibition, inaugurated by King Albert and Queen Elizabeth on April 26th. Now a permanent resident of Belgium he operated his first tearoom until the start of World War I. One by one his family members joined him, and notably his nephew, known as Basilio, himself an entrepreneur and confectioner especially known for praline, developed the brand further and cemented the logo and copyright for the company in 1937.

Leonidas - St John's Wood branch, London

Leonidas – St John’s Wood branch, London

Leonidas’ first UK store opened in 1978 in Edgware, and there are now eight full London shops, each offering over 100 varieties of confectionery at any time. The recently re-opened *St John’s Wood’ branch was managed for 30 years by Meryem Mustafa, who is now enjoying her retirement.
Leonidas still enters competitions, the latest being Paris’s Salon du Chocolat in 2012. And visiting worldwide food shows in countries like China and Russia means Leonidas brings their fare to new consumers, sources prospective employees and forges new business relationships.

*Branch address: 132 St John’s Wood High Street, London NW8 7SE

Visit http://www.leonidas.com/en/ for more information.

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