Interview to Álvaro Guillén Benjumea, Director of ACESUR, a leading company of olive oil, seeds, sauces and condiments. It is present in 80 countries, being the absolute leader in more than 20, and manages 15 brands including La Española and Coosur.
Acesur is a company that bets clearly on internalization, which are the main milestones of its international expansion process?
Indeed, one of the pillars of Acesur is its commitment to internalization, which is solid since more than 25 years. This has supposed the consolidation and leadership in more than 20 countries from the eighty in which we are present, of several brands specially of our olive oil brand La Española. Furthermore, it has been very important in order to face the hard crisis that we are suffering in the internal market.
Which percentage represents nowadays the internalization over the total turnover of the company?
Our international business represents currently 40% of our turnover, but short and medium term forecasts indicate that sooner it will represent a higher weight in the company, we are investing on it.
Which markets have currently greater weight on the global business of Acesur and which are the future markets?
I think that Acesur has been developing since exportation to internalization with our subsidiaries abroad and the plant in Syria to current globalization policy in which we are immersed. We are in the middle of the markets consolidation process, paying special attention to the Asiatic market.
In Syria, the situation is ever more complicated, how is this affecting your plant?
Unfortunately, the armed conflict has stopped the international expansion of our production for the Arab countries, but in spite of the war, we are still working regularly, being almost the only Spanish company that keeps present and bets on the country.
Which are the main challenges that your brand is facing currently?
We want to keep leading innovation in a very conservative sector, creating benefits for clients and consumers from processes to products. We are also in the middle of market consolidation process and paying special attention to the quick globalization process.
How important is the branding in the strategy of the company?
Acesur is a brand company, specially with La Española and Coosur, and we think firmly that branding is what creates value, encourages innovation and generates employment. La Española is a reference brand, taking into account that in the proper name we identify our own country, Spain, that is something more valued abroad than we think.
The brand La Española is clearly connected to the image of Spain, what does the Spain Brand contribute to Acesur and what else could it provide?
Personally I think that Spain is represented by its brand, and its brands are Spain. Now we are leading sectors as sport, fashion, infrastructures or agro-industry, so we have to take advantages of it and strengthen this situation. La Española in itself has identified in its brand and design our country image, Spain, into a sector where we are world leaders in production, as is the olive oil, and nowadays leaders also in packaging.
The European Union has approved recently some changes in the legislation regarding olive oil label, what effects will have this new regulations in the sector?
I think that any regulation that help clarifying the products is a good one, but sometimes changes have created more confusion than benefits. However, I do insist that any measure that improves a whole sector is welcomed. Recently, it was approved not to use oil cruets, but non-refillable bottles with brand in restaurants and I think that it will be a great measure that will also create a brand, not only for companies but will add value to the restaurant security to consumer, without having any significant cost.
Which would be your recommendation for those companies that are starting the internalization process?
First and most important, to have clear that they want to export from a general approach with clear aims and if possible with a strategic plan and after that, to have a prepared team for it and suitable products.