The cross-country races that Edorta Juaristi (Sant Sebastià, 1972) is fond of will surely have helped him in his task at the head of Caprabo, the distribution company founded in 1959 in Catalonia, 50% owned by Eroski and the Czech group EP. When he accepted the position of general director of the brand, he could not imagine what would come next. It was February 2020 and, after 21 years of assuming different responsibilities within the Basque group – he started in the operations area and became vice-president of the governing board of Eroski Societat Cooperativa –, he decided to do the step A few days after saying yes to the new position, the pandemic began. "I already joined it as general manager in June of that year and it has been my most important professional challenge by far; at first, I felt a little dizzy, because it is a company with 64 years of history and deeply rooted in Catalonia", he recalls.
Thus began another particular marathon, the one that the consumer goods sector has experienced ever since. First, to deal with the consequences of the covid crisis, with supermarkets identified as essential services; then, the war in Ukraine, which began with an excessive demand for sunflower oil – there were shortages in many stores due to the high demand and prices soared – and, finally, the inflationary spiral of food, which has put supermarkets in the eye of the hurricane.
In the midst of all this maelstrom, Juaristi has promoted Caprabo's most important transformation and competitiveness plan. “It has been one challenge after another, with a lot of action since I got there and situations that require quick decision-making... and I like that; the welcome and the experience could not have been better", he says. There was no shortage of activity. Under his direction, the new fresh products platform at the ZAL has been launched, the new head office in Caprabo has been inaugurated, the new e-commerce platform has been completed and the transformation plan for the entire store network has been completed - in the last four years they have invested one hundred million euros -. It has also managed the share change with the entry of EP Corporate Group.
However, of all his tasks, visiting the shops is the one he likes the most. "I consider myself a store man, I love stepping on them, seeing what's going on there, talking to the team... It's something that caught me from distribution", he says. And one of the reasons why, after graduating in Economics and obtaining a postgraduate degree in Management of Distribution Companies, he changed banking for mass consumption. He attaches so much importance to knowing first hand what happens in Caprabo's shops that in the first two weeks of August he visited 64.
The arrival at the management of the company has also meant an important life change for Juaristi. "Without the support and effort of my family, none of this would have been possible", he remarks. From Monday to Friday he lives in Barcelona and at weekends he goes to the Basque Country, where his wife and three children are. To maintain contact during the week, they resort to technology: "Every day we have dinner together by video call".
In the summer, he will barely rest for a couple of weeks, in his family home, since his daughter has to train for an important sports competition. He will continue to run for an hour every day, perhaps to face his next challenge: to participate in the Barcelona marathon and lower his last mark, 2.57 hours. He will also devote some time to the cinema, another of his great hobbies.
Already in September, back in Barcelona, he will start preparing for the next Caprabo exercise, with the opening of more of his own stores among the objectives. "These past years and inflation have helped us to improve efficiency, we have gained customers and sales - 743.6 million turnover in 2022 - and now it's time to continue transforming Caprabo". In the ultra-competitive Catalan distribution market "you can't stand still; it's not enough to be good, you have to be the best".