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Juan Roig Alfonso

Ricardo Migueláñez. Agricultural Engineer. @rmiguelanez

Our series continues with the chairman of Spain's leading supermarket chain, Mercadona. Juan Roig, the food industry leader, is a person that leaves no one indifferent. I've run into him just twice, but I must admit that he leaves quite the impression. I don't know if it's because I'm on the short side, but the day I saw him at the Alimentaria food fair last year I thought, "What an imposing figure!"

Roig was born in Valencia in 1949. He graduated in Economics and Business from the University of Valencia and completed the senior executive business program at IESE Business School.

He was named Doctor Honoris Causa by the Technical University of Valencia in 2007.

His first job was at his father's butcher shop, Cárnicas Roig, in the mid-1970s, where he learned the corresponding skills; later, in the late '70s, the family business was converted into a grocery story, which marked the beginning of Mercadona.

In the early 1980s, Roig took over management of the company, which began as an independent business of Grupo de Empresas Roig. It had 8 stores in Valencia at that time, spanning approximately 300 square meters; today there are more than 1,500 Mercadona supermarkets.

Juan Roig is a firm believer in entrepreneurship, which he encourages through initiatives such as Lanzadera and Angels, which offer funding and training to young entrepreneurs. He's also Vice-president of EDEM Business School, where he gives classes regularly to students studying Business Administration and Management-Entrepreneurship.

Up-close and personal with Juan Roig

His family is originally from Huerta de Valencia (Poble Nou), which is where he developed his easy-going personality, but he doesn't like to be duped. Those that know him say he doesn't beat around the bush, a quality he had in his university days, when he found excessive theory irritating.

Behind every great man is a great woman, and this case is no different. His wife has been his greatest supporter. She was a fellow classmate in Economics and Business, and she has been by his side throughout his entire professional career. Roig is also used to living in a house full of women—and brilliant women at that—which helped set the stage for the development of Mercadona.

He's a sports-lover, and for the last two years he has chaired the Trinidad Alfonso Foundation, which promotes sports, and he finances Valencia's basketball team.

Roig is a runner, and he participated in the most recent edition of Valencia's half-marathon.

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