Demos Ciclitira Ltd
Demos Ciclitira Ltd has imported dried fruit to the UK for over a century. The story, however, begins earlier than this, with six brothers resident in Greece. The family were packers of Greek currants, and one brother, Theodore Ciclitira, moved to England and started a firm known as Ciclitira and Co. The office was located in Boltoph Lane in the City of London, which was close to the Port of London.
Trading Through the Wars
Mr Demos Ciclitira (born 1883) helped run this office, and in 1926, he decided to start a business for his own account in Monument Street, EC3. The company progressed well in the pre-war years, specialising in the sale of Greek currants, and importing via the ports of London, Bristol and Liverpool.
The company acted as an importer selling through a defined distribution chain. This chain, which the entire food industry followed, involved the passing of goods from importer to broker, and then from dealer to wholesaler, with goods finally sold to the manufacturing and retail markets. In 1939, at the outbreak of war, Britain’s imports were restricted. Dried fruit, like other foods, was strictly rationed, and importation controlled by the government Ministry of Food. Sadly Demos, who died in 1943, never enjoyed the return to free trade, as rationing did not end until 1954.
Demos Ciclitira’s two sons, Dennis and John, undertook the revival of the company during the late 1950s, and formed Demos Ciclitira Ltd on a joint ownership basis. They resumed the import of dried fruit but on a much wider scale, which included dried fruits sourced from all over the world. However, the dried fruit trade itself had changed, and by the late 1950s, goods were no longer sold in hand-packed bags by the family grocer, but in pre-packed form from the shelves of supermarkets. The food manufacturing industry developed simultaneously, so that, for instance, ready-to-eat cakes were made in factories rather than at home. The progression of goods through importers, brokers, dealers and so on, became history, and the new era saw importers selling directly to the manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers.
Today, Demos Ciclitira Ltd, following its merger with George Harker and Co Ltd, remains one of the leading UK importers of dried fruit, and a packer of a whole range of other products, including cereals and pulses. The company retains offices in London at Capitol House, Leman Street, E1, with its packing factory located in Braintree, Essex, and is run by Demos’s grandson, Andrew.
Sales are to major UK retailers as well as the manufacturing and wholesale sectors. The company is particularly proud of its long association with a number of leading producers, such as Taris and Clarke Dried Fruit Ltd in Turkey, and the Union of Vostizza in Greece. The company’s current brands include Demos and George Harker, and the company continues to sell the world famous Eat Me brand of dates.