Leonidas is a chocolate company from Belgium.  We (at The Living Abroad Guide) frequent the Campo Pequeno location. We had to learn more about this cool store and therefore company.  We were provided with an opportunity to pick the brain of the Marketing  Manager Mariana Carvalho.
A little intro from the Marketing Manager:

“We are a Chocolate company present in more than 50 countries. Leonidas chocolates are made in Belgium and imported weekly to ensure the freshness of the ingredients. We have chocolates, tablets, bars and even spreads. What differentiates our chocolate is its quality because it has a high percentage of cocoa and no type of hydrogenated fat in its confection, is made with 100% cocoa butter.


Q & A to learn more about the company.

Q-1 Leonidas entered the Portuguese market in 2015, opening its first store in Lisbon. Now in 2021, how many stores do you currently have (in Portugal)?  



Q-2 What were the factors that influenced Leonidas to open in Portugal? 

The company’s CEO Bruna Vaz decided to emigrate from Brazil to Portugal. She considers that the quality of life in the country is higher in terms of safety and education for her children. She considers that Life is more peaceful and allows you to spend more time with your family.  

She visited many franchise fairs and chose Leonidas because it is a strong and consolidated brand in the world. As the brand was recent in Portugal, she considered it to be a good business opportunity.  

In 2018 she and her brother opened their first store in Campo Pequeno. It quickly became the best selling store in Portugal. In 2019, the master franqueado offered Bruna Vaz his right to Master franchise of Leonidas Chocolates in Portugal, to develop the brand in Portugal with the support of Leonidas Belgium.  

Q-3 As Leonidas developed over the generations into a family business, how involved is the family still today? 

Basilio (the founder) died on 2 April 1970 and he left Confiserie Leonidas bvba to his brothers and sisters. Jean Kesdekoglu-Kestekides took over and after a while his daughter Maria Kesdekoglu-Kestekides started to help out. 

In 1985 Maria Kesdekoglu-Kestekides took charge of the company following the death of her father. She was assisted by her brother Dimitrios Kestekoglou and her niece Vassiliki Kestekides.  

Leonidas is a family company, it’s more than 100 years old and the three shareholders are the fourth generation. And that’s a really fantastic thing because you have a real heritage and culture that is driving the company. In February 2018 the board – who also happen to be the fourth generation of the Kestekides family – appointed Philippe de Selliers as CEO. De Selliers began his career as a sales representative (six years at Mars were followed by more than 16 at Coca-Cola). 

“The secret is to find the right balance between keeping that culture and heritage but also bringing in processes and managerial techniques from more international companies, creating a mix between the two.” 


Q-4 How would you define the Leonidas customer? 

In Portugal, our consumer is mostly female, in the age group of 35 to 60 and with high purchasing power. 


Q-5 What are your best selling products? 

Leonidas best seller is Manon Cafe, the first praline created about 106 years ago. Made from smooth hazelnut paste, fresh butter and cream, and lightly flavoured with coffee, this is sheer pleasure to the taste. Leonidas has been creating luxury Belgian chocolates since 1913 and this fresh white chocolate praline is the kingpin to their large range. 

Ballotin is one of the most sold packages, for one’s own consumption or to offer. It is a golden packaging with a ribbon, practical and beautiful. Like all our boxes, you can personalize and choose your favorite chocolates to fill it. 


Q-6 Does Leonidas have any gluten free / lactose free products? 

We have a list of more than 20 gluten free products. We don’t have lactose-free products. 


Q-7 In addition to the locations mentioned in your response to question #1, how else can Leonidas fans purchase Leonidas products (online and other specialty locations)?  

You can make your purchases through our website www.leonidas-lovers.pt or order through the network of stores around the country. 


Q-8 Is Leonidas a member of / or part of any renowned international chocolate associations? 

Leonidas is a proud member of the Cocoa Horizons Foundation. The Cocoa Horizons Foundation was created by Barry Callebaut to help shape a sustainable future for cocoa and chocolate. 

Its mission: to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their communities through the promotion of sustainable, entrepreneurial farming, improved productivity, and community development. 

Cocoa communities are mostly located in remote areas, which often lack basic infrastructure and services, including schools, literacy and vocational training, access to safe water, and basic healthcare services. 

Gender imbalance also affects the sustainability of cocoa farming communities, with women having limited opportunities to build skills and generate income. 

A main motivator for Leonidas to participate in the Cocoa Horizons project was the fact that education and child protection plays an important part in the program. 

Also, we support empowerment in the Project ‘Beyond Trees, Towards a Better Income for Cocoa Farmers‘.


Q-9 Leonidas’ CEO Philippe de Selliers said in an interview in December 2018: “I don’t believe a business is sustainable if it’s not giving happiness to the people who are working in the company.” What does Leonidas do to promote giving happiness to the people who are working in the company?  

Upon joining the company you fall in love with chocolate and the Leonidas brand through training, which conveys the whole theory about the history of the brand and the quality of the ingredients, but also through the tasting and description of the products you are going to sell. I believe that the secret to selling a brand well is to have a real passion for it, and to be a fan too! 


Q-10 Leonidas’ CEO Mr. Philippe de Selliers was also quoted as saying “The Leonidas concept of ‘moments of happiness’ is not just about the pleasure of chocolate. Thousands of people are depending on the way we do business at Leonidas. And we have to give them happiness on a daily basis. If they are happy, and every day a little bit happier than the day before, they will be able to bring happiness to the consumer also.”  As the Marketing Manager of Leonidas Portugal, how does working at Leonidas make you happy?   

First of all, I love chocolate. Second, I became a fan of the brand for the quality of the products and the dedication of the entire team. 

In my day-to-day work, even in the pandemic situation we live in, and being in remote work, the whole team is always connected and I feel that we all work together to make Leonidas grow and take our chocolates to everyone’s home in Portugal. 

Finally, although we all work towards a common goal, I feel that my work is valued and that is the most important thing to keep you motivated and happy. 


Q-11 As Easter is coming up, what can you suggest for that occasion?  

We have a wide range of products (from classic to seasonal). In this Easter season we could not fail to highlight our packaging alluding to the season, as well as the eggs filled with the flavors of the classic pralines.  

We recommend Tin Ovo and Box Ovo. If you prefer almonds instead of eggs, you can always try our almond cube (mix black, white and milk chocolate almonds)


Q-12 What are your personal favorites?  

My favorite is Ballotin because it is versatile in terms of weight / quantity and allows you to choose the pralines you like the most. 




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