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Stelios' bright orange brands have seen multi-million-pound losses. Daniel Rogers hears his plans to keep the easy mother ship afloat.
Despite several trips to easyGroup's chaotic headquarters in North London, I'm still surprised to see millionaire tycoon Stelios Haji-Ioannou sitting at a PC and rubbing shoulders with dozens of other young workers.
This encapsulates the attitude of the easy brand: an earthy, populist approach to business. But at this point in time the young entrepreneur - Stelios is still only 36 - really needs to get his hands dirty.
When Marketing interviewed Stelios for its first Brand Master profile back in January 2000, the world looked to be his bright orange oyster.
EasyJet had just been granted Superbrand status and was preparing for flotation. His first spin-off brand - easyInternetCafe - was reaping the benefits of the dotcom boom.
Today things look rather different. Forced to admit last month that he may have to close his latest venture - the easyCinema in Milton Keynes - by the end of the year, one national newspaper responded with the headline 'The easy boss hits hard times' and asked whether he could reverse his 'losing streak'.
The tables have turned on the hitherto master of media. First came the revelation that easyInternetCafe had lost pounds 80m cumulatively over the two previous financial years - something Stelios describes as 'the most expensive mistake of my career'. Then it emerged that his only proven success, the previously hugely profitable easyJet, had dipped pounds 48m into the red in the first half of this financial year.
EasyGroup companies, excluding the publicly owned easyJet, now appear to have lost about pounds 120m over the past four years. EasyInternetCafe forms the bulk of this, turning in about pounds 90m in losses since 1999. But easyCar has lost about pounds 20m, the internet shopping …