Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou
Stelios is best known for creating easyJet in 1995 when he was just 28 years old. This pan-European low cost airline has revolutionised European air travel over the last two decades and now flies over 85 million passengers every year. In 2000 Stelios floated easyJet on the London Stock Exchange in order to fund future growth but he and his family have always remained the largest shareholders, owning around a third of the shares. As easyJet PLC became one of the biggest UK companies by market value, Stelios successfully campaigned to set a dividend policy that now distributes half of annual profits by way of dividends to all shareholders.
The easy family of brands: A strategic decision during the floatation process means that ownership of the ‘easy’ brand, (including easyJet) is retained in his private investment vehicle, easyGroup, based in Monaco and London. As a result easyGroup now enjoys a steady and predictable income from licensing the easy brand to many businesses (including) the airline in return for a royalty based on their turnover.
The easy brand has now been extended and licensed to many other sectors - all dedicated to offering consumers more value for less. These include: easyHotel, which was also floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2014, easyBus , easyCar, easyProperty, easyOffice , easyFoodstore, easyCoffee, easyGym and easyTennis. All these companies now contribute to easyGroup’s royalty income stream. There are plenty more ventures in the pipeline as Stelios continues to look for carefully selected partners with whom to extend the brand.
Charity work: Stelios started giving back to society more than 10 years ago and now runs the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation which takes up about a third of his time. The mission statement of his Foundation is to support philanthropic activities primarily where he has lived and worked: UK, Greece, Cyprus and Monaco. For example, the Foundation now operates a programme in Greece and Cyprus “Food from the heart” that each working day (without any discrimination) offers lunch time snacks to those needy people registering at the various distribution points. More than 200,000 people receive help each month making a total of 12 million snacks handed out in nearly four years. In May 2017 Stelios signed the Giving Pledge committing to endow his foundation with half of his estate.
Family background: Stelios, was born in Athens on 14 February 1967,the son of the late Loucas Haji-Ioannou, a self-made Greek-Cypriot shipping magnate. Stelios started his business career working for his father’s shipping company, until aged 25 he founded his first own shipping venture, Stelmar, based in Athens. The company was floated on the New York Stock Exchange in 2001 and subsequently sold to a rival in 2005 for about US$1.3bn.
Honours: In 2006, at the age of 39, Stelios received a knighthood from HM Queen Elizabeth II for services to entrepreneurship. Since 2009 he has been the Honorary General Consul for the Republic of Cyprus in the Principality of Monaco - where he lives. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics and has a masters degree from the City University in London. Moreover he has been awarded four honorary doctorate degrees from City University, as well as from Grandfield, Liverpool John Moores, and Northumbria (Newcastle) Universities in the UK.