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Despite spinning a lot of plates, founder of airport transfer service easyBus, Sir Stelios, still finds time to log into his company’s Shell Card Online account…
Recognisable by his first name alone, Sir Stelios Haji-Ionannou has achieved something approaching rock star status in the business world. This is the man who started a shipping company, Stelmar, in 1992; launched the airline easyJet in 1995, when he was just 28, then floated it on the London Stock Exchange five years later so he could concentrate on extending the ‘easy’ brand. To top it all, he was knighted by the Queen for his services to entrepreneurship in 2006.
Today, Sir Stelios remains the driving force behind easyGroup, which includes easyBus – his low-cost airport transfer service. EasyBus became a Shell card online client in 2012 after narrowing the field down to three potential providers.
“I wanted a tailor-made deal,” says Sir Stelios. “EasyBus operates on set routes between central London and Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. Shell was able to identify three main filling sites on our routes and offer us a site-specific deal on price.”
Cost efficiencies were one thing, the environment was another. Sir Stelios has a keen interest in environmental issues. He set up the organisation CYMEPA in 1992 to develop programmes aimed at educating the shipping industry, school children and the wider Cypriot population about the dangers of taking the sea for granted, and he also supports the work of the animal charity, the WWF in Greece.
“My family’s Cypriot ancestry combined with our shipping business background mean I take a keen interest in the health and protection of the marine environment around the island of Cyprus. It’s become one of my driving passions.”
The deal with Shell appealed to Sir Stelios’ commitment to the environment. EasyBus’s fleet is using Shell FuelSave diesel, which has helped the company make fuel efficiency savings – using less fuel means less CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.
“Having the Shell card online system is good for us too,” says Sir Stelios. “We can run reports and see everything about a transaction – which driver bought fuel from where, how much they bought and how much they paid. I have my own user ID and password so I can log on and take a look. We also have our own account manager and because we are platinum customers, we can contact customer services every day if needs be.”
It’s a measure of the man’s enthusiasm for his businesses that he takes the time now and then to log on to Shell card online when he has so much else going on. Not least his philanthropic work that extends to supporting young entrepreneurs in the UK, Greece and Cyprus.
Sir Stelios has pledged 200 scholarships to the London School of Economics and Cass Business School in London – his alma maters – supporting young, exceptional ‘Stelios scholars’ who want to make a difference in their chosen fields. In addition to this, he also created the Stelios award for disabled entrepreneurs in the UK in partnership with Leonard Cheshire Disability. The award has been presented annually since 2007 to exceptional entrepreneurs who have overcome significant physical and perceptual limitations in starting their businesses.
In Cyprus, he has personally handed out sandwiches to people on very limited incomes as part of his foundation’s Food from the Heart programme, which offers free lunchtime snacks to people in need, while in the UK he has plans for a new low-cost supermarket chain, easyFoodstore.
And then, of course, there is easyBus. “For far too long airport transfers have been a cosy cartel between bus and train companies with travellers forced to pay sky-high fares,” says Sir Stelios. “EasyBus has already shaken up the Luton, Gatwick and Stansted routes but with fares as low as £2 one way, our business model works best with a long-term, reliable partner like Shell.”