To paraphrase his own ad, beer has proven to be one of the most resistant products for Hijos de Rivera. The family business that owns the Estrella Galicia brand, which also has an important water division, posted record profits in 2021 with 94.9 million euros, 79% more than a year earlier, with a turnover that for the first time exceeds 600 million (there were a total of 610 million, with a growth of 27%). They thus exceed the figures prior to the pandemic, at which time the contracting was maintained without resorting to ERTE. The workforce also grew by 16% and there are now 1,448 people.
Ignacio Rivera, who has held the executive presidency of the group since December (he is the great-grandson of the founder and had been CEO since 2012), announced this Thursday in the presentation of results a new investment plan of 600 million until 2024, which will be financed with close to 300 million in debt (the company barely has any leverage). Although in this 2022 the group that owns Cabreiroá, Maeloc, Agua de Cuevas, Ponte da Boga, Fontarel or Auara is suffering from the increase in transport costs and raw materials, they assure that these increases have not been transferred to prices. The brewing division sold 90 million liters more (436 million) than in the pre-pandemic 2019. Something attributed, according to the president, to “the good connection of the product with the people”. The percentage of sales in the hospitality channel has also been balanced: from 75% it has gone to around 65%, and the rest is in household consumption.
The group has its sights set on 2023 and 2024, where for the first time it will make the leap from having a single factory, —the current one in the A Grela industrial estate in Coruña— to three. Until now Estrella Galicia had always defended that the water with which it makes its products is one of its fundamental values. It will be the same raw material used by its new plant in the Morás industrial estate (Arteixo, A Coruña), in which an investment of 150 million is planned. But far from there is his great project in Brazil, a factory in the municipality of Araraquara, in the state of São Paulo, which began construction this Thursday and will consume some 170 million of its resources. His challenge is to achieve a turnover of 1,000 million for the group, which is 100% in the hands of the family.
Its axes to advance are several. The first they mention is digitization, “which can lead us to be more efficient, to sell more, to have a better connection with customers.” Internationalization is the second of their levers, for which they will use a distribution agreement with Coca-Cola in Brazil, which is seeking to incorporate beer brands with the Galician philosophy into its product catalog. Ignacio Rivera also insisted on the environmental issue: “We have achieved zero emissions in our factory.”
With an operating result of 174.4 million in 2021 compared to 162 million before the pandemic, Rivera anticipated that the margins will suffer this year due to this resistance to increasing prices. Last year’s investments amounted to 67 million euros: there are now 31 companies in eight countries. “Thanks to these subsidiaries and all the expansion, we already sell our products in 60 countries.”
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.