Spanish Brands Quality hallmarks succeed worldwide
Made in Spain

A mosaic of successful market ventures portrays Spain’s new image as a nation for cutting-edge and competitive business initiatives

Until recently, Spain lacked the big international brand names of some of its European rivals. This is partly due to past years of economic underdevelopment and relative isolation. Nevertheless, as the president of an international company with offices in Madrid says, “A country needs to have its marketing plan in order to express what it wants to be.” According to a recent study by the Institute of External Trade (ICEX), Spain has not been able to market its image fully. However, some Spanish companies have managed to penetrate the City, Wall Street and other markets, including Tokyo, Rome, Berlin and Paris.

As Britain's Ambassador to Madrid explains, "I think that there are an increasing number of Spanish companies who are willing and able to function and do well in a competitive environment like the UK.” According to José Herce, Director of FEDEA,the Foundation of Applied Economic Studies the Social and Economic Policy Research Foundation, "Spain has just a handful of large international companies that have invested outside. Spanish firms have been focusing on Latin American companies for obvious reasons.”

However, an increasing number of other Spanish firms are channelling investment towards the UK, such as Ferrovial, Porcelanosa and Construcciones y Contratas. Ambassador Wright says, “I think Spanish companies are drawing encouragement from these trends.”
One institution that is playing an important role in the internationalisation of Spanish firms is the Spanish Association of Certification and Standards (AENOR), a private non-profit making enterprise dedicated to standardisation and certification issues. AENOR is the Spanish equivalent to the "kite mark" of quality and its President, Manuel López Cachero, says, “The body was set up with some scepticism from the industrial sector, despite the need for such an organisation in the Spanish economy. Mr López Cachero adds, “For a long time we have fought against the impression that Spain is a country dedicated to bullfighting, sun and sea tourism.”

Manuel López Cachero
Manuel López Cachero
President of AENOR

Spanish international success stories fall largely into two categories: fashion and design and food and drink. Typifying the first category and demonstrating the newly found global reach of Spanish companies is the fashion retailer Zara, owned by the textile group Inditex. Founded in 1963 as a maker of ladies' lingerie, over the last five years the company has become the world's fastest-growing retailer. A recent ranking exercise of global businesses by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and The Financial Times placed Zara amongst the most admired firms in the world, just in front of the aeronautical giant Boeing.
Mr Herce says that Zara (Inditex) has made an international success but stayed true to its roots. “It remains Galician,” he says, “even if it invests in China or Morocco.” Mr Herce adds, “For Spanish companies the key is to enlarge the value chain and locate it in different areas, then firms will continue to be Catalan, Spanish or Andalusian.”

Following Zara, another highly successful Spanish firm in the design and fashion industry is the Puig Beauty and Fashion Group. Puig has created a strong reputation for good quality by working closely with suppliers and keeping manufacturing in its own plants. Puig has grown rapidly over the last decade and has seen it increase fivefold, from £120 million to £612 million, while its products are now distributed in more than 150 countries.

José Luis Bonet
José Luis Bonet
President of Freixenet

José Luis Bonet, President of the Forum of Leading Spanish Brands (FMRE) as well as of the highly successful sparkling wine producer Freixenet, says that in order to achieve worldwide recognition it is first necessary to be number one in Spain. Mr Bonet knows what he is talking about; he has seen his company become the unquestioned leader in the Spanish wine industry as well as one of the top ten world groups in this market. Today Freixenet enjoys sales of more than £335 million with vineyards in California and Mexico and wineries in France. The company exports to more than 130 countries. Mr Bonet says, "Freixenet is producing 200 million bottles a year, about 125 million in Spain and the rest in foreign countries." In the United Kingdom Freixenet has become a household name and the market leader in sparkling wine.

But perhaps Spain’s most famous logo is the black bull silhouette of the Osborne Group, a logo that has become so famous that it has come to represent the country itself. The group is most famous for its sherry, port, anis and wines but also produces Iberian hams and recently the company has begun a spate of acquisitions that it now aims to consolidate under the Osborne brand.

The importance and need for continual brand development has been acknowledged by the creation of a reward for Renowned Brand Management by the prestigious Prince Felipe Awards for Business Excellence, which in 2003 was won by the well-known porcelain manufacturer Lladró.

Distributed with The Daily Telegraph. Produced by PMC Ltd, who take sole responsibility for the contents
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