George Skoulikas arrived in the UK from the beautiful Kalamata region of Southern Greece, renowned as the land of the Kalmata olives and the Kalamatianos dance, to study for a degree settling initially in North London. George began his entrepreneurial business selling Kalamata olives sourced from the family olive groves and production plant in Kalamata, Greece out of an old van stationed behind a barbers shop in North London. Thus was the early beginnings and vision of George Skoulikas Limited.
Having emigrated from the Kalamata region of Southern Greece as a young student in the late 1960’s, George Skoulikas Limited (GSL) was founded around 1977 by the Greek entrepreneur Mr. George Skoulikas. While he was working in London for an American Bank, George began importing delicious high quality Greek Kalamata olives and olive oil under the Sunita and Hellenic Sun brands together with a wide range of specialty Greek products, all of which very quickly became firm favourites within the local Greek community in and around North London together with the local health food industry.
Sometime later George’s wife helped in the business assisting with the management and growth of the business we know today.
Since 1977 George Skoulikas Limited had dedicated itself to creating a wide range of interesting and high quality fine foods that encompassed unsurpassed quality, taste and flavour, marketed under the Sunita brand name.
George Skoulikas decided to buy a new larger warehouse in a prime location of the M1 and on the A406.
Colin Morrison joined the company after working for Harvest Foods who later combined with Nova Foods to become Essential Trading. With Colin’s knowledge of products and languages he helped develop the export trade and also introduced new lines from Italy and France, which are still part of the flagship Sunita range. George and Colin built the business on quality products and the loyalty of the workforce and strong relations built with a long standing customer base.
In 2010 George Skoulikas decided to retire after thirty plus years developing GSL into a thriving, well known and respected fine food organisation distributing conventional and organic ethically produced products throughout the United Kingdom. GSL was sold to the Dublin based organisation, Allegro; a subsidiary of the Dublin based Total Produce Plc.
George Carroll was appointed Managing Director of George Skoulikas Limited with the retirement of Mr. George Skoulikas on the 1st July 2012.
Having been recruited to these shores together with many hundreds of young Italian men from the Campania region of Southern Italy by the London Brick Company to help rebuild post war Britain, Mr. Giuseppe Ciampa arrived with the inspiration and dreams of all immigrants for a better life for himself and his family. By 1956, he had established a mobile shop operation supplying compatriots with their staple gastronomic delights…. Pasta, Olive Oils, Bread and Tomatoes.
As demand steadily grew with the arrival of many more Italian families to the UK and with great foresight, it was decided to open the first retail shop in Queen Street, Bedford and by mid-1960 Bedford Continental Stores & Bakery was opened in partnership in Ridgemont Street Bedford, a Wholesale business that began to supply Italian Specialist Retailers and Caterers outside of Bedford, namely London, Peterborough, Nottingham, Maidenhead, Woking and areas of Wales and Scotland.
The business had outgrown the Ridgemont facilities and the opportunity arose to move to the current site in Harrowden Road Bedford when the Wholesale & Bakery divisions separated and the company was renamed Bedford Continental Wholesale Ltd. The site had an ideal logistical location and offered room for expansion. Soon after a Coffee Roasting, Blending and Packing plant was established as the Café culture slowly gripped the UK alongside the ever increasing demand and awareness of Mediterranean culinary delights and snacks.
By now, the Company was in the hands of Mr. Ciampa’s son, Antonio. As with all second generation British Italians, proud of their heritage but grateful to the UK for the opportunities offered, Antonio set out to meet the demands of an ever changing market as consumers became more discerning. The portfolio was by now both extensive and constantly evolving, offering some of Italy’s premier brands from all regions of Italy.
After over 40 Years dedication to his Family business, Antonio identified the opportunities of merging with George Skoulikas Ltd bringing together over 100years experience of Italian and Greek fine food Distribution together with expert knowledge in the health and alternative food sector offered by the new MD, Mr George Carroll
BCW operated from a large modern warehouse in Bedford city centre which offered GSL larger warehousing and office space to expand their product ranges; the decision was made to purchase Bedford Continental Wholesale Limited and to form one larger high quality organisation, Skoulikas Bedford Limited. BCW incorporated some of Italy’s premier brands together with many ethically and ecologically sourced regional products which captured the diversity and authenticity of traditional Italian cuisine and long standing family recipes.
With over 100 year’s fine food experience between the two companies, we are able to offer an excellent level of service and product range to meet the demands of the manufacturing, catering and retail sectors together with our loyal community customer base.
On 30th June 2015, Signore Antonio Ciampa left Bedford Continental having sold the business to fine food company George Skoulikas Limited and Mr. George Carroll was appointed Managing Director of Bedford Continental on 1st July 2015. George Carroll already held the position of Managing Director of George Skoulikas and had many years of in-depth knowledge and experience in the health and alternative food industry nationally and internationally.