Pafilia is the largest privately owned residential developer, a family-owned company that has been in business since the late seventies. It emerged from the 2013 financial crisis stronger, pioneering high-rise building with the construction of the 37-storey ONE on the Limassol seafront. Its diverse €3 billion property portfolio also includes the Minthis residential resort, while the planned NEO complex on the Limassol seafront will feature four high-rises. The Sunday Mail spoke to Pafilia’s Executive Director, Evangelia Eliadou, about the company, its plans and the reasons for its success.
Pafilia has been in business for over 40 years. What were the key decisions and company principles that made it one of the biggest and most successful companies in Cyprus?
The Pafilia story is one of major achievements and milestones. In four decades we have transformed the property landscape in Cyprus. Our success is owed to Mr Elias Eliades’ bold vision and keenness to embrace new approaches. Of course, such a vision can only be realised when the fundamentals are in place to support it. Pafilia has the scale, culture, people, values, skills and investment in technology to create things that are extraordinary, relevant and lasting. We have never lost sight of the values we hold dear; we are a family-owned company, founded on close relationships and unbreakable resolutions. When we speak of Pafilia as a ‘family company’ we do not simply refer to the two generations that currently operate the company, but to people that have made Pafilia their home for 10, 20 and even 30 years, helping it flourish and playing a crucial role in its successful expansion.
How did Pafilia cope with 2013 crisis, when the banks cut the credit lines putting great pressure on businesses, including developers.
I believe all companies experienced very challenging times. Pafilia was fortunate to have navigated the crisis relatively unscathed. This is due to the hard work and dedication of our team as well as our ability to adapt – I’d say this was key. We took a bold, perhaps even aggressive, approach during this difficult period, both in terms of our product strategy and business development approach. In addition to continuing to construct and deliver all existing projects we decided to introduce a flagship large-scale pioneering development while also expanding our reach and targeting new markets. When one door closes another one opens, and its critical to be alert and ready to pursue new opportunities. We had the foresight to anticipate a shift in the real estate market and were bold enough to pursue it.
You have said that people nowadays are buying a concept, they want an experience, a different lifestyle. What is the concept or the different lifestyle you have offered?
Purchasing real estate is based on pragmatic and personal considerations, purchasers are seeking value. They are looking for more than an investment or asset, they desire something unique with added value to their lifestyle. Creating a home is about so much more than the owned space. Pafilia gives equal consideration to creating flourishing destinations and communities, enhancing environments and ensuring long-term sustainability, such as the Boulevard and gardens of NEO which extend to the Limassol park and theatre.
In addition consideration must be given to the services, location, finishes and detail of a project. Minthis is a perfect example of a concept-oriented project – it is part of a protected Natura 2000 site where the landscape dictates the architecture and amenities. The contemporary homes blend seamlessly with nature maximising undisturbed views, and personalised five-star service enhances the ownership experience. The pioneering approach to holistic living continues throughout the resort and all facilities have been carefully considered to enable residents to pursue a healthier outdoor lifestyle. With the Wellness Spa, a range of boutiques, restaurants and bars, the Clubhouse, sportsground and golf course, every inch of the five million square metre resort has been designed to capture the philosophy of mind and body that has existed for thousands of years in this corner of the Mediterranean.
The high-rise developments were a ground-breaking idea and you secured the first such licence for ONE, which will be the highest seafront residential development. How did you arrive at the decision that the high-rise was the way forward?
It wasn’t about a high-rise, it was about creating a ground-breaking project that would once again set the benchmark for Cyprus real estate. A high-rise was simply the design response to the prime site we had on the Limassol seafront. Limassol has limited land availability, particularly in the business zone which is the most desirable area, thus it was a natural evolution for the city to expand upwards. Global trends demonstrate growing demand for high quality high-rise properties – we felt confident that this demand would also be present in Limassol. With the design approach established we hand-picked a world-class team with some of the most respected design, engineering and architecture firms in the world to realise our ambitious vision.
How easy was it securing all the necessary licences from the government? We know how long it takes to issue licences for a house, let alone a high-rise building?
It was a long and arduous process to secure the permit for ONE. This is the only downside to being the ‘first’. I believe we have now paved the way for future projects. We created a very strong team including international architects, engineers and countless consultants with specialist skills relating to high-rise developments to help educate the authorities and assist them in the creation of rules and procedures. As the first true high-rise in Cyprus everything literally had to be created from scratch specifically for ONE. The design and planning process took approximately six years.
Buyers of apartments are from more than 20 different countries and 90 per cent of the flats have been sold. What are the reasons for this success?
For ONE itself, or any other project, success requires the perfect mix of factors including location, design, finishes and much more. Clients are demanding and they expect quality in everything.
I’m pleased that the nationality mix of buyers is now very diverse, this makes the market much more sustainable than in the past. With over 25 nationalities of buyers in just one development I can confidently say that we are achieving global reach. Pafilia has taken a very proactive approach to expanding and penetrating new markets, with eight global offices and teams travelling every week of the year, our business development model is certainly one of the company’s key strengths. After that it simply comes down to the quality of the product, as a savvy buyer understands a good investment regardless of their country of origin.
How important has the citizenship by investment scheme and permanent residency scheme been in pushing sales?
Many factors have fuelled demand for real estate including the new oil and gas sector, the introduction of non-domicile status, casinos, numerous tax incentives and the improvements of the residency and Cyprus Investment Programme, which are very attractive to high net-worth individuals seeking greater security and mobility. Pafilia, has greatly benefitted from these programmes as our product, particularly our flagship developments ONE, NEO and Minthis are ideally suited to purchasers of this calibre.
One criticism, is that the people buying flats in high rises are interested in citizenship and would not spend very much time in them. Could this result in many high-rises without many people living in them?
I do not see this, the vast majority of our clients develop an affinity for the island and not only want to spend time here but invest further and take advantage of the island’s business advantages. In addition the rental market is going from strength to strength, which demonstrates the increasing demand for property and its investment potential. What’s important is that the properties are purchased with fresh funds sent from abroad, there are no speculators or leveraging involved. Thus the market is now real and organically growing.