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Michael Angelakis:Adelaide’s lovable larrikin

4 Aug 2009: neoskosmos.com

The Angelakis family are synonymous with seafood in South Australia. Managing Director, Michael Angelakis, shares his experience of leading a third generation family business.

From inception up until the setting up process, how did you start your business?

The fish industry has always been in our blood. My family comes from Simi and trading and the sea was integral to our way of life.

After my grandfather Michael migrated to Australia I suppose there was a natural progression to the Greek fishing community of Thevenard on the Eyre Peninsula.

My father George felt it was easier to make a living fishing than labouring on the land. From there he moved to Adelaide to educate the family.

My dad, his brother Nick and brother-in-law Sam purchased retail shops in the Adelaide Central Market and the business grew from there.

In 1985 I became the Managing Director of Angelakis Bros and my interest was to grow the business as a distributor to the hospitality sector.

Today our business consists of two processing and distribution plants, and several Angelakis Bros retail outlets.

Our market is now national through Supermarket chains, interstate distributors and seafood wholesalers.

We continue to be very aggressive in the hospitality industry.

Did your Greek Australian background help you or impede you during your early days?

In Australia the fish industry opened up work opportunities for migrants but I also believe that our heritage helped us to understand the market.

In the early days our customers were predominantly European migrants who were regular market shoppers.

We had a small but niche market to begin with, but as Australian eating habits have become more cosmopolitan our market has grown.

Today fish is not something only eaten on a Friday; it has become a part of a healthy Australian diet.

Putting a prawn on the barby has become integral to the Australian identity.

What would you say stands out as the comparative advantage of your business over the competition?

Our philosophy is simple; we specialise in bringing the freshest and finest seafood, poultry and game to your table.

That’s what we stand for, and in the 1980’s we launched the ‘Ocean Catch’ label which is now synonymous with our company name Angelakis Bros.

We reinvest profits into product development.

Everyone in South Australia now associates our name and brand with excellent quality seafood and game.

Our market strategy is ‘fresh product’ which requires expert handling and this is our advantage over cheaper frozen commodity products.

How is business currently?

The recent economic environment has had an effect on consumer spending especially with regard to the hospitality industry.

This has had a flow on effect producing a challenging market however there are exciting opportunities to be had and we are always aiming for innovation through new products, markets and packaging.

What is your vision for the future of your business?

Our aim is to consolidate business within the areas of retail and hospitality and to offer freshness to a wider distribution which includes interstate markets.

We are developing new products through innovation in packaging and value adding by incorporating the latest technology into our business.

We aim to provide meal solutions making seafood more convenient and attractive to the consumer.

We are sourcing fresh seafood from every state in Australia giving our customers the greatest variety of choice.

Within the company itself we are streamlining operations to create an efficient and safe workplace with a focus on food safety and human factors.

Do you have any tips for young entrepreneurs?

My tips to young ones are that they should aim for commitment and persistence. Believe in your product and what you offer. Above all balance innovation with endurance.

Some businesses fail because they only focus only on growth which is not always sustainable. This is where endurance comes to the fore.

Make sure that long term goals fit within the best interests of your business and review and revitalise your strategies.

Angelakis Brothers has been in business for over fifty years but we never rest on our laurels.

As a family business now in its third generation, we value the foundation our fathers built and we look forward to adopting the new skills and expertise which each new generation contributes.