In 1950, in the village of Samarina, situated in the Pindus Mountains, Ioannis Kantonias set up the first company, as a fiber cottage industry for the production of the traditional Greek rug, flokati. Ioannis Kantonias with his wife Glykeria Kantonia (both originating from Samarina) had 5 children, Giorgos (who died at the age of 20), Antonis, Stelios, Xenofontas and Mairi. The father of the family created a powerful cottage industry for wool processing, considering the situation of the region, and in 1955 the company moved to Larissa and took the corporate form of a limited partnership. The boys of the company had been working since childhood and they had been taught to work hard and to be committed to the work of their father. Being far-sighted, the founder of Biokarpet foresees that the flokati rug will be served as an alternative type of carpet. Therefore, in 1963 he started exploring this perspective through mass production. The results of this research and the successful application, in terms of production, placed the company in a short time at the top of the market as a leading player in this area of trade. Indeed, Biokarpet is the first company that initiated the mass production of flokati rugs. It is worth mentioning that certain stages of the production process such as the watermills in the springs of the Pindus Mountains remain unchanged. Nowadays, after 60 years, this product keeps travelling to various places around the world.
Ioannis Kantonias, the founder of the company, passed away in 1966.
In 1970, the company was transformed into a Société Anonyme under the name “BIOKARPET S.A. CARPET INDUSTRY” and the eldest son of the family, Antonis Kantonias, was appointed president. In 1972, the offices and the production were transferred to the new privately-owned facilities at the 5th km of the National Road Larissa-Athens, in the city of Larissa, continuing the production of flokati rugs, kilims and blankets. In 1973, the production of wool carpets started. The small cottage industry was transformed to what Biokarpet has become nowadays, the largest carpet and flokati industry in Greece and one of the biggest companies worldwide. Its products travel every day worldwide receiving awards for their quality.
Antonis Kantonias died in 1981 at the age of 42 because of an incurable disease and his brother, Stelios, undertook the presidency. Continuing the work of his predecessors, the new management continued to meet the needs and requirements of many clients at a global scale. This is proven by the fact that the company has been awarded fifteen international prizes so far in the largest international trade fairs.
The period 1990-1993 is characterized as “golden age” for the company. During this period, important events and large investments took place.
In 1990, Biokarpet was admitted to the unlisted securities market of the Athens Stock Exchange.
In the same year, as Biokarpet was growing constantly, it created the subsidiary Biojapan CO.LTD. This company constitutes one of the main factors of promotion of Biokarpet products on the international market having its registered offices in Tokyo. Biojapan paved the way for the products of the company on the Japanese market and stores of the country.
In September of 1990, the computerization department of Biokarpet, which was encouraged and funded by the Management, set up Bidata Company, currently called Albio Data S.A., which is actively involved in the IT sector. The main characteristic of Albio Data is that it has the potential to provide integrated solutions in respect of IT having a comparative advantage in the region of Thessaly.
Keeping its primary focus on its further development, the Management of the Group made the strategic decision to shift to aluminium sector. So, in 1993 it obtained access to this profitable market by acquiring the aluminium industry Exalco S.A., located at the 8th km of National Road Larissa-Thessaloniki. In a short time, it acquired Elmetal aluminium industry and it invested a large amount of money in the development of these two companies by creating a brand-new and state-of-the-art aluminium unit in the main facilities found in the 5th km of National Road Larissa-Athens. Nowadays, Exalco Company is a complete and integrated industrial unit producing aluminium profiles, having the possibility to cover all the modern structural and architectural needs. Thanks to the developed network of sales in Greece and abroad, Exalco plays a leading role in aluminium sector.
In 1997 Biokarpet created and strongly developed a series of commercial stores using the method of franchising. The reason for this selection is the wider advertising and promotion of the products bearing Biokarpet label. Now, Biokarpet is one the largest companies worldwide with a network of 52 stores, 40 of which operate in Greece and the remaining 12 stores operate abroad. More precisely, franchises operate in Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Albania.
In March of 2000, Biokarpet Group acquired the company PERSIKA S.A. (spinning and carpet industry) undertaking its reorganization. The aim of the Group was to maintain and spread the selling points of Persika. Today, the range of products of Persika consists of many carpet qualities in modern and classic designs and also of unique handmade carpets.
In 2001, it created the first private combined heat and power plant. The factories of the Group subsidiaries, Exalco and Biokarpet have already operated with self-produced power and heat.
From 2001 to 2005 the Group made significant investments and extended to the Balkans by establishing in Bulgaria the subsidiaries Exalco Bulgaria and Biokarpet Bulgaria in 2001 and 2004 respectively. Continuing extension, it set up the subsidiaries Exalco Romania in 2002 and Biokarpet Romania in 2005 with their headquarters in Bucharest.
In 2006 a new company, Biokarpet Home, was founded, which sells products such as white linen, towels, bathrobes, comforters, curtains, upholstery and wallpapers.
On July 23, 2010 the president of the Group Stelios Kantonias, died suddenly at the age of 68. The president Stelios Kantonias had realized a great charitable work over all these years with many donations and sponsorships to institutions, churches, holy monasteries and public entities such as the donation to a nursery school situated in Larissa, in the memory of his brother Antonis. He was known as the “president of championship”, because, under his presidency, the local football team AEL won the national champioship in 1998.
The Board of Directors was re-established and Giannis Kantonias, the son of the deceased, was nominated as the new President. Therefore, since 7/9/2010, Giannis Kantonias has undertaken the presidential duties by continuing the work of his father together with the rest of the Management.