CEO Spotlight

CEO Spotlight: Demetris Pagonoudis – Chief Operating Officer at Mikel Coffee Company

Demetris Pagonoudis Chief Operating Officer at Mikel Coffee Company

Mikel Coffee Company started its operation in 2008 in a small town in Greece. Following a strategic growth plan all these years, managed to get a place among the larger and most popular franchises in the industry. Nowadays, Mikel Coffee Company counts over 270 stores in Greece, alone, and 340 stores total in 17 countries. Regarding the expansion in the USA market, the company opened its first store in the United States in 2018. There are now three stores between Massachusetts and New York with additional locations in California and Florida underway. 

Demetris Pagonoudis, Chief Operating Officer at Mikel Coffee Company in an interview at CEOWORLD magazine describes the principles and the strategy that brought the company to the top of the coffee industry, talks about the future investment plans, and also reveals a new trend in the market. “It sounds somewhat foreign for the Greek market but in the coming years, several places will make their drive-thru debuts in Greek cities. Mikel has already embarked on this journey with one drive-thru store in Thessaloniki and will continue in Larissa and then Athens soon enough” says at CEOWORLD magazine.

It is worth mentioning that the logo of the company depicts the founder’s father on it and it is representative of the culture of the company. “We want our customers to feel like family when they visit our shops. We’re not just a coffee company franchise, we are family” adds Demetris Pagonoudis.

Mikel Coffee Company

Q: When was the Mikel Coffee Company founded and how many stores does it have in Greece? In which countries is the company present abroad?

Demetris Pagonoudis: Mikel launched its first shop in 2008 in the city of Larissa and gradually expanded throughout Greece. By 2013 Mikel stores numbered 60 with the first store opening in Athens. The franchise has been largely unstoppable since there are currently over 270 stores in Greece, alone, and 340 stores total in 17 countries including the United Kingdom, Cyprus, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Australia, United States, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, 

Iraq, Romania, Turkey, North Macedonia, Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, and Qatar. 

Mikel Coffee Company

Q: In the last two years, Covid-19 changed our lives, then the geopolitical crisis in Eastern Europe, and now the energy crisis. To what extent has the company been affected in terms of turnover or implementation of its investment plans? 

Demetris Pagonoudis: Despite Covid restrictions and quarantines, the company collectively managed to reorganize on an operational and executive level. We were faced with never-before-seen challenges in servicing our customers, but we were able to adjust to meet their needs. The company was forced to alternate its training procedures, experienced support teams now conduct real-time training remotely.

Mikel’s biggest achievement during this time, though, was the tech aspect of the business. We focused on e-commerce and grew our online sales. While e-commerce was always an option for customers, the Greek market was not accustomed to using electronic means for ordering. One of the pros was that the Greek market became more comfortable with e-commerce in general. This actually helped our company gain more exposure on a global level. Our experience in providing takeaway at stores since 2018 proved very useful during this time. We alternated store designs from dine-in to takeaway and cooperated with delivery services to serve more customers.

We are truly experiencing uncertain times not only because of supply delays but, due to the global issues we are facing, we are also battling price increases. We are in constant search for solutions, so that we can ensure minimum supply chain delays, both in products and consumables such as machinery and equipment in general. Costs have risen for every link in the supply chain, from the energy part of transport costs, up to the final wholesale price. All of this impacts the price to be paid by the consumer. We have been forced to make price list changes to our network, but often retaining a part of these markups and absorbing these as a company to minimize the effect on our consumers and partners. This is something we’ve also done in the past, such as in the enforcement of special tax on coffee and the increase in VAT. Our basic principle and priority is to support our partners and to continue providing great coffee to our customers.

Q: How have you dealt with the competition over the years, especially when having to compete with multinational companies like Starbucks? 

Demetris Pagonoudis: Coffee has always been a personal matter for the coffee lover. The coffee industry has proven successful over the years. If we take into consideration that coffee franchises are fewer than stand-alone shops within the market, we can see there is great opportunity for growth. Our quality control, high standards, premium raw materials and expertise in production and service are just some of the values that set us apart from the competition. While Mikel started in a small town in Greece, it has proven that with its strategic growth plan, it can claim a spot among larger and more popular franchises in the industry. Mikel’s growth to 340 shops in 14 years speaks volumes for its success. 

Our ambition remains: we want everyone to enjoy a coffee in the right place in the right environment with a warm and friendly ‘‘mom & pop’’ shop feel. After all, our logo depicts our founder’s father on it, and it is representative of how we want our customers to feel like family when they visit our shops. We’re not just a coffee company franchise, we are family.

Q: When did the expansion of the company outside of Greece begin? When and from which country did it start? How many stores do you have in the USA and in which regions?

Demetris Pagonoudis: Through Mikel’s Global international franchise operation, business growth has proven exceptionally brisk, opening international branches in Dubai, UAE and Larnaca, Cyprus in 2016. We opened our first store in the United States in 2018. There are now 3 stores between Massachusetts and New York with additional locations in California and Florida underway. 

Q: Which are your future investment plans both for Greece and abroad?

Demetris Pagonoudis: In Greece, our main focus is in Attica where there is still a lot of room for expansion. In the rest of Greece, we are targeting areas where we do not have a presence as well as in collaborations with large groups for our shop in shop type stores. Our plans for 2023 are under review awaiting geopolitical and economic developments. Of course, nothing gets in our way of finding new investors around the world and with existing partnerships expanding the MIKEL COFFEE COMPANY brand will not stop expanding in more and more new countries.

Mikel Coffee Company

Q: Of the five types of stores you have created, which one has proved to be the most resilient in times of crisis?

Demetris Pagonoudis: We would clearly say the “Spot” takeaway/self-service stores. The daily routines of consumers have changed. The fast and intense rhythms of everyday life have led the consumer to be constantly on-the-go. In their high paced schedules, what they care about most when having to make a stop to get a coffee or a snack, is being able to do so quickly and to continue their busy day. Professionals who are constantly out and about want to stop to get their coffee and/or food before heading to meetings, quickly and without delays. Soon, we will also see drive thru stores on the rise. 

It sounds somewhat foreign for the Greek market but in the coming years, several places will make their drive thru debuts in Greek cities. Mikel has already embarked on this journey with one drive thru store in Thessaloniki and will continue in Larissa and then Athens soon enough. Our consumers are much more receptive to adopting such store models, mainly due to the new lifestyle that is here to stay.


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Maria Gourtsilidou
Maria Gourtsilidou is Senior Editor of Research and Data Analytics at the CEOWORLD magazine. She is responsible for driving thought leadership, using data analytics to showcase the company’s products and services, and fostering knowledge sharing between CEOWORLD magazine and client organizations. She studied Public Administration (Economics Of The Public Sector) in Greece and holds a Bachelor’s in Public Administration from the Panteion University of Political & Social Studies. Follow Maria Gourtsilidou on Twitter. Write at maria-gourtsilidou@ceoworld.biz.