Jerez, Spain—In this city in the province of Cadiz in southwest Andalusia, once at the frontier between the Christian and Muslim kingdoms, the Philippine flag flies proudly over the bodegas or cellars of Bodegas Fundador, which singlehandedly established the foundation of the brandy industry of Spain.
And in this company founded in 1730, a new spirit has taken over, making management and employees enthusiastic and optimistic about fulfilling the company’s goal to produce more high-quality brandies and sherries for both established markets such as the Philippines and developing markets in Asia, the Americas and Africa.
For Bodegas Fundador general manager Rafael Rendon Gomez, more Fundador products will soon emerge from the pipeline in response to the directive handed down by Emperador Inc. chair and CEO Andrew L. Tan, who is determined to increase the group’s stronghold on the global brandy market.
Emperador Inc., through subsidiary Grupo Emperador Spain S.A., struck a deal to acquire Fundador and three other international liquor brands in December last year from Beam Suntory for P13.8 billion.
The purchase, which included the assets of Bodegas Fundador, Spain’s largest and oldest brandy production facility, was completed last March. The deal strengthened Emperador’s position as the world’s largest brandy firm.
Group Emperor managing director Jorge Domecq shared that since the takeover by Emperador, Bodegas Fundador has been developing new products to add to the extensive Fundador line as well as expanding distribution and marketing links to widen the presence of the brand.
The Philippines currently accounts for 40 percent of the annual production of Fundador, followed by Mexico, Spain and Italy at 15 percent each, with the balance found in smaller markets such as the US and Africa.
Bodegas Fundador also targets to increase sales of its other widely recognized brands such as Terry Centenario, Spain’s top-selling brandy and Harveys, the United Kingdom’s leading sherry brand.
Incidentally, Harveys Very Old Amontillado V.O.R.S., developed by Manuel Jose Valcarcel, master blender of Bodegas Fundador, was crowned the best wine in the world in July during the prestigious International Wine Challenge, referred to as the Oscars of the wine world. That was the first time that a Spanish wine has received the prestigious prize.
For Valcarcel, the takeover of Fundador by Emperador was a welcome development as it meant that Bodegas Fundador was now in the hands of a group that will stay true to the proud tradition of Bodegas Fundador.
Valcarcel, who has been with Bodegas Fundador for 32 years, said the group has seen its share of management and ownership changes over the years and it is with Emperador that he sees a bright future for the company.
For one, Tan knows the liquor industry well, with his Andy Player one of the first brands that he established in the Philippines, followed by Emperador. And Valcarcel said that Tan involves himself in the actual process of finding the right blend for soon-to-be-launched brandy products.
“He has a very good vision for the brandy; and for me, that is very important. This is the first time that a person at the very top knows our products very well. For me, the important thing is the brandy, the sherry. The situation before was so different,” said Valcarcel. “But now, we are very happy about the possibilities, the opportunity for growth.”