The digital next gen approach gets a big convert

Juan Roig, the man behind the very successful Spanish supermarket chain, Mercadona    Photo: Wikimedia

Juan Roig, the man behind the very successful Spanish supermarket chain, Mercadona    Photo: Wikimedia

Mercadona, the huge Spanish supermarket group owned by the Roig family, has launched a digital platform and employed a next gen of the family to run it.

The new initiative called Mercadona Tech is led by Juana Roig, the youngest daughter of Juan Roig, the billionaire president of Spain’s biggest supermarket group. The move comes after Juan described Mercadona’s website earlier this year as not up to scratch and the company would spend a sizable amount of money to improve the digital experience for its customers. Mercadona Tech looks to be part of that initiative.

Although not explicitly communicated by the company, nor the family owners, the appointment of Juana as the CEO of Mercadona Tech also provides an increasingly popular path for next gen engagement in the family business - involve them in a startup with links to the core business.

Juana, 32, has gained experience at the Spanish retail giant Inditex, which owns the clothing group, Zara. She is also a graduate of the Barcelona business school, ESADE. She joins elder sister Carolina in the family business, who works on the marketing side. The Spanish press has recently speculated that one of these daughters might be the designated successor to the 67-year-old Juan. Two other daughters work outside of the core business. Hortensia is head of the Valencia business school, EDEM, which has strong links to the Roig business empire, and Amparo is an architect.

Mercadona has more than 1,600 stores and employs around 79,000 people. In 2015, the Valencia-based group had revenues of €21.6 billion. Mercadona’s success, led by Juan, is a favourite topic of business schools and business publications, not least because of its enlightened employment policies and commitment to its staff. A recent Harvard Business Review article on its employment practices is indicative of the praise the Mercadona employment business model often receives.