Gema Boiza. Journalist. @GemaBoiza
They speak several languages, they're driven and, in most cases, they have international experience. They manage teams with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of workers in and often outside Spain, and they have enabled their companies to weather the economic crisis, in terms of revenues and jobs, better than traditional restaurants. These are some of the common attributes of executives in Spain's modern restaurant industry, according to data provided by Fehrcarem (Association of Modern Restaurant Chains) to Wiki Spanish Food.
The data also reveals that these executives have proven capable of directly and indirectly negotiating and managing teams due to the stability of their posts and among other factors, to their having undergraduate degrees in economics, business and marketing, in most cases, and also graduate degrees, mainly MBAs.
This training always include language studies, especially English, which in many cases has led these executives to gain experience living and working outside Spain. Whether its the international vision of the business, the executives' high level of education, or their innate talent, Fehrcarem companies have been able to ride out the economic crisis better than traditional restaurants, according to data provided to Wiki Spanish Food by Juan Ignacio Díaz, General Secretary of Fehrcarem, which recently increased its number of members from 21 to 24.
In the last year, companies in the Association had 125,000 employees, 10,000 restaurants, and revenues of around 9 billion euros, a decline of 11%, i.e. 10 percentage points less than traditional restaurants, whose sales have tumbled 22% since the crisis began.
Internationalization through franchising
According to Diaz, this success is also attributable to the fact that those companies have adapted their offer to consumer demands and to new consumption trends, where customers are offered more for less.
Additionally, executives of modern restaurant companies have also made the right move in internationalizing their brands, taking advantage of Spanish products' popularity around the world, which has helped them diversify revenue sources.
According to Fehrcarem data, companies have expanded abroad through franchises. Among member companies, Pans & Company, FresCo and Eat Out Group are some of the names that have successfully opened establishments in Italy, India and Guatemala.
Other companies, such as Lizarran and Cantina Mariachi (Comess Group), are up and running in Mexico, the US, Chile, Morocco, Russia and China; Telepizza has entered Poland, Chile and Colombia; and Restalia, the parent company of 100 Montaditos, La Sureña and The Good Burger, has successfully opened restaurants in the US, Mexico, Colombia, and Italy.
Restalia is an example of large company in the modern restaurant industry with a woman at the helm. Virginia Donado, at just 36 years old, is in fact one of the youngest executives in the sector.
But she's not the only one. María Carceller is CEO of Grupo Rodilla, and Blanca Ripoll has led SSP Spain, the food travel experts, since 2008.
The 24 members of Fehrcarem are: McDonald's, Vips, Rodilla, Telepizza, Eat Out, Areas, SSP, Cafestore, Buffalo Grill, Restalia, Autogrill, Le Pain Quotidien, Comess Group, Beer&Food, El Barril del Tapeo, Abades, Gate Gourmet, Nebraska, Häagen-Dazs, KFC, Taberna del Volapié, Tommy Mel’s, Vait and Restauravia, which owns La Tagliatella.