In January, the Leading Brands of Spain Forum (FMRE) was presented officially in the Autonomous Region of Andalusia.

As on previous occasions, in Galicia in 2004 and in Valencia in 2005, this initiative responds to the need to make FMRE, its purpose and objectives known all over Spain, in order to transmit to and reach both the regional authorities responsible for the internationalisation of companies at regional level and those companies with a reputation or recognition based in the different Autonomous Regions.

The event, which took place in Isla de la Cartuja (Seville), included two very different acts: an institutional breakfast and a meeting with the local press held at the EXTENDA headquarters, the Trade Promotion Agency of Andalusia, and a business conference with presentations for the main Andalusian businessmen held at the EOI Foundation headquarters in Seville.

The press conference included participation by José Luis Bonet, FMRE’s Chairman; Mª Teresa Gómez Condado, Under-secretary for Industry, Tourism and Trade; Julio Moreno, EXTENDA’s General Manager; and Miguel Otero, FMRE’s General Manager.

José Luis Bonet presented the institution to the press, and reiterated the importance of the aggregate figures of the 75 companies belonging to FMRE, as the joint turnover of members represents 26% of the Spanish GDP, and they employ 800,000 workers, plus the fact that on average 35% of this turnover comes from business overseas. He also highlighted that FMRE is providing a service to the country, by helping national brands, which in turn, act as a driving force pulling others along within their respective sectors.

Mª Teresa Gómez Condado stressed the support of the Ministry for Industry, Tourism and Trade to this FMRE project, and the fact that the main value of the institution is having been able to bring together the Public Administration and the most international leading Spanish businesses around the same table and on the same forum and exchange of information. In this way, in as relevant an issue as the support of the government authorities for brands, the public and private sectors act in coordination and collaboration.

Julio Moreno focused his presentation on highlighting the progress in Andalusia made over the past 30 years and the Andalusian business fabric, which has changed from a primarily agricultural region to the third in the national ranking of exporting regions, diversifying its overseas supply and gaining strength in the services sector in comparison with farming and agriculture. He also mentioned the three companies which currently belong to FMRE: Osborne Group, ACESURE Group and Gonzalez Byass, and highlighted the fact that there are other potential members in Andalusia such as the Cosentino, Mayoral or Abengoa Groups.

Finally, Miguel Otero talked of the novelty of FMRE as an institution which has taken shape under the initiative of the companies themselves; aware that it is a good idea to join forces to defend common interests regarding brands, in a world where in order to compete on international markets, Spanish companies must forget other competitive factors used in the past, such as price, and step out to compete through their brands. Likewise, he referred to the new financial tool, Finbrand, approved recently by COFIDES, and devised to help Spanish companies to launch or purchase international brands.

He spoke of the key role of overseas development agencies in the Autonomous Regions in supporting new brands; the China’s Action Plan set out for 2007; and the line of collaboration set up by FMRA with civil society through the Spain Brand’s Honorary Ambassador.

At the end of the press conference, a business conference was held at the EOI Foundation headquarters under the title “The Leading Brands of Spain Forum. Internationalisation strategies for Andalusian brands”, which was opened by Joaquín García-Tapial, Director of EOI Seville; by Mª Teresa Gómez Condado, Under-secretary for Industry, Tourism and Trade, Chairwoman of the EOI Foundation, and Vice-chairwoman of FMRE; by José Luis Bonet, Chairman of FMRE; by Julio Moreno, General Manager of EXTENDA; and by Pedro Moriyón, Managing Director of Promotion at ICEX.

The first presentation was made by Julio Cerviño, Associate Professor of Marketing and Business Economics at the Carlos III University in Madrid, and by Rosario García Cruz, Associate Professor in International Marketing at the University of Seville. Both highlighted, with a multitude of examples and real cases, that in the globalised world in which we live, brands serve not only to differentiate between products as in the past, but also that the brand has gone beyond the boundaries of its very concept, and has become a key element for consumer identification with the product and of the product with a particulate lifestyle and even with certain values symbolised by the brand. It would seem that consumers are rational when they want to be, but that their purchase decisions in most cases are not based on rational criteria but on the emotions transmitted to them by a certain brand.

The next event was a business panel consisting of representatives from four Andalusian companies, González-Byass, Osborne, the ACESUR Group (all three members of FMRE) and the Cosentino Group. The members of the panel were:
Adela Lario, Manager of Legal Services for the Osborne Group, who gave a historical review of the brand from its beginnings until today, focusing on the main milestones reached during the internationalisation process of the brand.

Pedro Rebuelta, Chief Executive Officer of González-Byass, S.A. who described the internationalisation strategy used by the Tío Pepe brand around the world.

Álvaro Guillén Benjumea, Director of Marketing and Institutional Relations for the ACESUR Group, and Board Member of Coosur, who presented the La Española brand and explained its effort to adapt to the markets in which it is sold.

José Carlos Aranaz, head of architecture of the Cosentino Group, who explained the impressive international development of the Silestone brand, in particular in the vast and complex US market.

The panel moderator was Miguel Otero, FMRE’s General Manager.

The event was closed by Sergio Moreno, Vice-Minister of Tourism, Trade and Sports and EXTENDA’s Chairman.

To round off the day, the FMRE members and other guests headed to the Hacienda Guzmán, belonging to the ACESUR Group, where they were welcomed by the Chairman, Juan Ramón Guillén, for a pleasant lunch in a unique setting, with the chance to see the olive grove with over 100 varieties from all around the world, plus an important collection of period carriages.

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