Freixenet, the successful Spanish cava brand, turned 100 years old in 2014. Their competitive position is noticeable both in the national and the international market, where they have been exporting since the 1930s. This firm keeps their familiar representation, with wineries in 7 countries and in 3 continents, as well as several distributing companies around the world.
Freixenet was founded in the 19th century as a family-owned business in the province of Barcelona. At the beginning, Francesc Sala sold wine with the brand “Casa Sala” in 1861. Years later, in 1914, the families Sala and Ferrer got together and started the cava and sparkling wine business. At that time the brand Freixenet was born and they started selling in the national territory.
Freixenet was a small business compared to one of the biggest competitors when they started, Codorniú. This brand was leading the market at the time when Freixenet focused on the Spanish market. It was from the 1950s onwards that Freixenet managed to exceed the sales figures of their competitor Codorniú.
The cava firm is determined to address new population segments and it is creating innovating designs for their cavas. They developed their differentiation strategy when they launched “Carta Nevada” in 1941 and “Cordón Negro” in 1974, which turned out to be key for their business boost. This strategy was also important for their growth in international markets which continued in the 60s and 70s.
Freixenet’s legacy is consolidated thanks to its stable and solid structure which helps them achieve the international leadership in the sparkling wines sector, elaborated according to the traditional methods.
Freixenet’s international strategy
Freixenet started their international strategy in the 1920s and 1930s through occasional exports to Iceland. Afterwards, Freixenet had to deal with tough times at national and international levels, due to the Spanish Civil War (which provoked the temporary collectivization of the business) and the Second World War. These events provoked the slowing down of their business, but that didn’t delay their entrance to foreign markets. Their main market abroad was the United States, New Jersey to be precise in 1935.
Freixenet’s internationalisation process was developed mainly through the creation of subsidiaries. Besides, in Europe they also entered through mixt societies with local distributors. Years later, Freixenet increased their international presence by entering the UK, Germany, Russia, Cuba, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Argentina, among many other countries. The entry mode was mainly through direct investment in commercial subsidiaries, production subsidiaries, delegations, distribution agreements and international alliances.
When Freixenet became the leader of cava production and commercialisation, they considered the multinationalisation strategy. This way, the Spanish brand built wineries in several parts of the world such as California and Australia, as well as others within the national territory.
José Luis Bonet, president of Freixenet, states that the key of their values are: “quality, constant innovation and family cohesion”.
Currently the 80% of their national production goes to international markets, which confirms the great importance of their international presence for the development of their business.
During the last year, a remarkable and non-binding offer was presented by the German Henkell Group – they wanted to buy part of the shares of the Spanish cava company. Last December, Pedro Ferrer was replaced as the CEO so that an executive management commission could be created, with one representative from each family, aiming at solving the problem that the company faces in terms of sale or not sale of the company to the German group and also in terms of the moderate results that the group shows nowadays.