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Adding value to spanish exports


María Teresa Rodríguez Sáinz-Rozas

Ricardo Migueláñez. Agricultural Engineer. @rmiguelanez

María Teresa Rodríguez, chairwoman of Galletas Gullón, is the focus of our Who's Who profile this week. Rodríguez, who is 73 years old, was born in Aguilar de Campoo, Palencia, and has four children. She was forced to take the reigns of the company following the tragic death of her husband, José Manuel Gullón González, in a car accident in 1983. Gullón González was the third generation to helm the company, which was founded in 1892 and is currently the only family-run cookie company in the industry.

María Teresa Rodríguez, who until that time had been home taking care of the family, was appointed chairwoman of the board of directors, with broad powers to lead the company. On the advice of her two brothers, Félix and Raúl, and a lawyer, Miguel Doménech, it was decided to resolve organizational issues by creating an external group of managers to control the company from Madrid.

Someone was needed to head the factory in Aguilar de Campoo and, following a difficult hiring process, Juan Miguel Martínez Gabaldón was chosen in 1986. He is currently the managing director, and was re-hired in 2010 following the major family confrontation that is well-known throughout the sector.

The company's journey has been tarnished by a family dispute that dates back to mid-2009, when an internal battle for control of the company exploded, leading to many legal hearings initiated by María Teresa Rodríguez's brothers and sons against Juan Miguel Martínez Gabaldón.

After the hatchet was allegedly buried in one of the most publicized family conflicts in Spain, what's left is one of the largest cookie companies in the world, with revenues of 286.6 million euros in 2014, up 12% with respect to 2013.

The company's figures

These results are mainly attributable to the good performance of exports, which account for 35% of company sales. The company's growth required internationalization. Today Gullón has a presence in 110 countries, thanks to the chairwoman's oldest son, Félix Gullón Rodriguez, who is responsible for this area and is achieving annual growth of close to 25%.

Another key ingredient in the company's success is its policy of not distributing dividends and of reinvesting profit. This strategy has been defended time and again by the chairwoman, who has enabled the company to finance itself and expand without going into debt since the 1980s.

Currently, Gullón is a leader in the healthy cookie segment, with a market share of more than 30% in Spain. It is, undeniably, a major company, with a workforce of more than 1,000, although its true success does not reside in the chairwoman or general management, but in the new generation of Gullón family members who are leading its most important departments.

Teresa Rodríguez is a women who knows how to overcome adversities in life when they arise, and she has received several distinctions, among them the Businesswoman Award from FEDEPE (Spanish Federation of Women Managers, Executives, Professionals and Businesswomen) and the Medal for Merit in the Workplace, from the Ministry of Employment and Social Security.

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