Grupo Cuevas continued in 2021 the exceptional growth of 2020 due to the pandemic and posted its second consecutive year with double-digit sales growth. The companys total turnover was 137.2 million euros (10% more than in 2020) and the specific turnover of the food business exceeded 130 million (11.1% more than in the previous year).
This evolution of the turnover stands out from the average trend of the food distribution sector, which last year stagnated at the national level and repeated the magnitudes of 2020, according to data from the Nielsen report. Meanwhile, the century-old company extended the strong rise in sales to a second year, by capitalizing on its strategy of openings and expanding the commercial network, of territorial expansion -to become an operator in the northwest area-, of adaptation to the new habits of consumption and intensification of the commitment to rural areas.
The gross operating profit (ebitda) stood at 5.5 million, growing by 13.1% compared to 2020.
The sum of the boom in activity and territorial expansion is reflected in the employment figures, which also reached historical highs. In 2021, Cuevas average workforce was made up of 619 workers, 60 more than in the previous year. And as of December 31, with the contribution of seasonal employment from the Christmas campaign, the company generated 735 jobs, 35 more than a year earlier. Thus, the average number of employees rose by 10.7%.
Artur Yuste, CEO of Grupo Cuevas, highlights as the main results of the year the higher rate of job creation and the “double digit” in turnover growth: “There is no good business strategy if the growth does not have a visible reflection on employment , nor on local economies. In our case, having maintained the growth rates of 2020, which was a record year for the sector due to the increase in domestic consumption in the pandemic, has allowed us to improve our contribution to employment and to the revitalization of the territories in which that we have a presence”, he stated this morning at the presentation of the annual results.
Grupo Cuevas, a pioneer in orienting its business model towards the recovery of the economies most penalized by depopulation and isolation, became in 2021 a company with sales hegemony in rural areas. The parent company, Ignacio de las Cuevas, which channels the food distribution business, last year recorded revenues of 65.9 million euros in rural areas and 56.7 million in urban areas. And in one year, the weight of rural over its sales went from representing 52.8% (year 2020) to 53.7% (2021).
Of the 17 centers opened by the group in 2021, 14 have been located in small population centers. The openings in rural areas contributed more than 10,000 square meters of surface – 82% of the total openings last year – in the expansion of the commercial network deployed by Grupo Cuevas throughout the entire year.
Establishments located outside cities and metropolitan areas, in municipalities and counties with little economic development, are already the majority by area (28,089 m2) – 55.6% of the total – and by number of points in the network – 65 stores- of the 93 it had in total (50,438 m2) as of December 2021. In addition, supermarkets in rural areas support 39.2% of jobs.
As of December 31, 2021, the global area of ??Grupo Cuevas with the sum of its own centers, franchisees and logistics exceeded 92,000 square meters. The expansion and growth of the joint sales room have continued in the first half of 2022, with an opening in San Cibrao and the incorporation of another 4 Spar Express to the Galician chain. In this way, the total area reaches 94,120 square meters.
On the other hand, purchases from local suppliers from the food distribution division amounted to 52.3 million euros last year, of which 43.3 million benefited a total of 218 Galician suppliers. In Asturias, a community in which Grupo Cuevas made its debut in the second half of 2021 with the acquisition of the business of the Malaquías Morales brand, purchases from local suppliers rose to 4.9 million, and in Castilla y León to 4 million euros. In two years -comparison between 2019 and 2021-, these proximity purchases in Galicia went from a volume of 32.3 million to the current size of 43.3 million, with a biannual increase of 34%. In the same period, the number of suppliers in Galicia increased exponentially, going from 88 in 2019 to 218 in 2021 (growth of 148%).
Among the groups companies, last year the evolution of Ignacio de las Cuevas and Cuevas y Cía. The first for boosting sales by 11.5%, gross operating profit (ebitda) by 16.1% and average annual employment by 11.5%, and for exceeding 120 million in turnover, and the second for achieving the highest percentage growth in billing, with a rise of 17.9%.
In addition, the company that acts as a large Galician platform in the chestnut sector has also shared with the parent company the dynamism in investments. Cuevas y Cía allocated significant amounts to innovation, fundamentally to the renovation and acquisition of equipment, ranging from changing freezing technology to the purchase of an industrial cooking pot and a labeling machine, as well as the construction of a treatment plant with capacity to treat 160,000 liters of water per day.
The investment flow of the company that made Galician brown glacé universal is continuing with the installation of 264 solar panels, capable of supplying 25% of the energy used for self-consumption. As a whole, the group allocated a total of 2.9 million to investments in 2021.
Sustainability, the circular economy, waste management, recycling and the fight against food waste were the pillars of the exercise in environmental protection and corporate social responsibility. Currently, the central offices of the Ciudad del Transporte, other headquarters of the group, as well as several supermarkets and wholesale centers have photovoltaic energy supply. This year these endowments will continue to be undertaken until reaching a total of ten centers between stores and facilities of the other group companies. The installed renewable power will amount to more than 1 MW, which has involved an investment of close to 700,000 euros and which is already facilitating an energy contribution of between 30 and 40%, depending on the center.
At the end of 2021 Grupo Cuevas avoided the emission of more than 100 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere and when it reaches the total implementation of planned facilities, it will exceed 600 tons of CO2 that will not reach our Environment.
In circular economy, the use of ecological pallets with FSC sustainable forest management certification stands out, the most demanding and committed to the environment and the responsible exploitation of forests.
Last year, Grupo Cuevas points of sale gave a second life, through recycling, to 168 tons of paper and cardboard, and 42 of plastics and packaging. For their part, customers contributed to the collection of 715 kilos of used oil and 746 kilos of batteries.
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