For four generations now, Leonidas has been crafting with tireless passion and respect for tradition the best pralines. Their recipe for success? Impeccable freshness and always using chocolate made of 100% pure cocoa butter.
From fresh butter, to Morello cherries from the Périgord, almonds from Italy and Valencias oranges, Leonidas’s variety of ingredients used in each praline recipe are sure to please even the most pretentious ones.
We had the chance to discuss with Ion Codreanu, master franchiser of Leonidas, about chocolate, early beginnings and future plans.
How did the story of Leonidas begin in Romania?
I.C.: Before 2009 there was a single Leonidas representative on the local market. That was the year in which I took matters into my own hands. I adopted a whole new business strategy, changing the way Leonidas approached the local market. I initially went for the corporate market together with opening a flag-ship store in the most commercial area of Bucharest (Dorobanți). The next stage was to approach other markets in major cities of Romania (Iași, Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara). Currently, we are at the third development phase: market consolidation, increase authentic consumption for the chocolate lovers and – of course – consolidating and expanding the LCC concept (specialties chocolate drinks, with therases) in Bucharest and other locations.
What were the main challenges and opportunities?
I.C.: Educating the market was and still is the most challenging part. We constantly organized PR events, tasting “parties”, grand opening events, we also had the chance to be regularly approached by the media, we did corporate events and also partnered with prestigious cultural events. All these because we really believe that if we have the chance to talk directly to the consumers and give them just a little taste of Leonidas – we knew that they will become Leonidas fans. After all, Leonidas is a 100 year’s old perfected brand. Impossible to resist.
This is the way we increased our Leonidas community, with chocolate lovers coming to us to buy for them or for their closest friends.
Our opportunity was that we knew of the existence of an increasing demand in quality chocolate products. And the offer was either limited or too expensive. So we identified this market niche, delivering professional services, not only products. We built our own story around the famous Leonidas brand.
What’s next for Leonidas? Do you plan on expanding your network?
I.C.: We will continue to expand to the developing cities in Romania, together with the consolidation of our existing network. Our target is to become a landmark on the quality chocolate segment, quality and stylish corporate gifts market and also on the chocolate / coffee shops segment.
Which is the most interesting praline assortment from Leonidas?
I.C.: First of all, I have to say that we have over 100 pralines in our offer. All of them are made in Belgium, based on recipes from the best chocolatiers in the world. 100% cocoa butter, without frozen products and only the finest ingredients.
Thus being said, I want to state out that all of the pralines are more than interesting. Each and one of them has its own personality and story.
Manon Café is the most famous of our offer. This is the real Diva of Leonidas, celebrated all over the world. Even in Japan, Manon Café has its adapted recipe, because of the local regulations.
But besides the renowned pralines, I have to admire the new Leonidas trend, with some of the most intriguing aromas and ingredients: balsamic vinegar, sesame, elderflowers, passion fruit, lavender, violet ganache, just to name a few.
Which praline assortments do clients preffer the most?
I.C.: Usually, the preferred pralines are with milk chocolate, but also with dark chocolate, but with low cocoa contain (54%). The classics fillings are always wanted (vanilla, ganache, cherries, bananas, butter or cream based pralines. But, in the last months we had a constant demand increase for other assortments, with unique fillings: balsamic vinegar, sesame, elderflowers, passion fruit, lavender, violet ganache. This is a result of our tasting events in which we always celebrate the new assortments and spread the story of each of them. The chocolate lovers become attached to their preferred pralines and the come back for more.