Novis, meaning “novelty” in Latin, was established in 1950, and started off with a small shop in Piazza, the center of Addis Ababa. Within a few years, the same shop expanded rapidly, and another store was opened near the National Theater. Selling gold, silver, souvenirs, leather products, sports cups, toys and household goods; the company was doing very well. It was one of the favorite spots for the Imperial Palace, ministers, high officials, presidents, foreigners, and people who were in search for quality.
When the revolution started, the company obviously faced hard times. However, it survived the war, and prospered during Mengistu Haile Mariam’s time. This government always made sure that Novis furnished their house, and all ministers were clients and when important gifts were to be made, orders were to buy them there. Even though times were hard, Novis continued doing business, and maintained the reputation of being the only quality good store in town, but due to government law was not allowed to venture in new investments.
After a period of seventeen years, with the new policy of free investment, Novis felt the need and found the opportunity to expand business. Within one year, we obtained a license to import food and beverages. Novis was the first real supermarket in Ethiopia. During Mengistu’s time, there was only one supermarket, but it was only for diplomats, where one could buy only in foreign currency.
We started with a small supermarket at Old Airport. Eventually, the store became too small for the goods imported, and for the clients’ demands. One year and half later they opened a bigger one just a couple of hundred meters from the first one. Needless to say that if you wanted to buy quality goods, weather food, household goods, or toys you went to Novis. One year after moving, we invested in a new shop at the Hilton. Being in the center of Addis Ababa, and the only quality hotel at the time, the investment was perfect, attracting all local clients as well as hotel guests. After two years of the Hilton Supermarket opening, Novis opened their biggest and the biggest supermarket in town, located in on Bole road.
With the opening of the Sheraton Addis in February 1998, Novis substantially contributed in helping with the arise of the hotel by supplying them with food and beverages of all types, obviously with the great help and support of the Sheraton management. In 1999 Novis opened the first whole sale in Ethiopia, and called it 3C (cash and carry center). The warehouse offered good prices for quality goods in bulk, with consistency that was not available anywhere else. Even though many other supermarkets were opened between these times, none could ever compete with the quality items sold at Novis. Now, almost all supermarkets in Addis buy supplies from Novis. Visit any supermarket and you can see that if not all, most of their products for sale on their shelves are imported by Novis.
At the end of 2002 Novis ventured into something new and started importing all cleaning materials for hotels, and is now proudly the sole distributor and representative of Ecolab. Not only, but we are now specializing in marble cleaning, and have been very successful in this new adventure. Novis has ventured down another new road. At the new Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, we opened two stores. One shop sells international souvenirs that come from all parts of Africa. The second, smaller, elegant shop sells silver from all parts of the world: ranging from Italy, Nepal and obviously Ethiopia. Novis has a fleet of five trucks that deliver goods in the entire town, and within a one hundred-kilometer radius, as well as two refrigerated trucks that bring our goods directly from Djibouti. One of our trucks goes every day to handpick fresh vegetables in Debrezeit, guaranteeing freshness and quality of vegetables for the clients. Novis is now one of the biggest import companies in Ethiopia, employing more than 150 people. Novis’s success has the perfect balance between price and quality. Even though many try to imitate Novis, no one has ever been able to come close to the seriousness, consistency and quality that we have.
In May 2006 Novis undertook a new project into a completely different sector and bough The Express Travel Group. The Express Travel Group has always been known to be one of the best travel agencies in Ethiopia. Novis could not pass on such a great opportunity and purchased the agency with the desire to expand it into different tourism sectors and develop the agency even more. The Express Travel Group is now arranging tours in all of Ethiopia and as well as tours around the world. Safaris, tropical islands, cultural excursions, are part of the international repertoire of The Express Travel Group.
With the desire to always provide our clients with the best quality possible, we decided to open a farm. The farm is conveniently located in Debrezeit. We fatten our own cows, pigs, lamb and goats to provide our clients with an excellent quality of meat. We also grow a small amount of vegetables, to serve our supermarkets and export to Djibouti!
Already being the distributors of the institutional business for Ecolab in Ethiopia, we have been awarded the distribution of the F&B business as well. This means that we supply Coca Cola, Dashen Brewery, Pepsi, Meta Abo, Ambo Mineral Water, to name just a few, with their chemical needs such as lubricant, scuffed bottle masking additive, antimicrobial agent, and much more. We are proud in helping these internationally recognized food and beverage processing plants in optimizing every aspect of their operations!
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