"To make sweets you have to think like a child, a difficult and critical consumer" - La Provincia

"To make sweets you have to think like a child, a difficult and critical consumer" - La Provincia

Antonio Andrés Sánchez, a company and an objective:

He arrives at the appointment with a backpack on his shoulder. After our interview, you will become a student. Although he presides over a company that sells in over a hundred countries, he feels the need to learn more. He is taking a master's degree that forces him to dedicate time to classes and, far from worrying about leaving the office for a few hours, Antonio Andrés Sánchez Bernal (Murcia, 1962) thinks that it is the best opportunity to push his collaborators to make decisions without his tutelage. He grew up throwing hours of work in the family project when leaving school and is very aware of the legacy of sacrifice and dedication of his parents, the founders. He considers himself only one point and followed, his dream is to solidly anchor the brand, the Sánchez Cano Group, the Fini candies, based in the region of Murcia, in the succulent large American market to leave it in the hands of the next generation: his nephew and his son.

- Do you take many goodies?
-More than you could imagine, there is no day that I do not take. I've always said that I'm Fini's worst customer, because I do not pay for any of the huge amount of candy I eat weekly.

-A nutritionist would take his hands to his head.
-They are very healthy, more than people could imagine. Gelatin or glucose are all proteins and even sugar is healthy for the brain. The fact that sweets are not healthy is a myth.

- They are not empty calories that fatten without contributing nutrients?
-It could be said that most athletes consume it, there you have proof that they provide energy. What happens is that, as in everything, there must be a balance. Depending on your demand, you must consume.

- To make sweets you have to keep the child alive inside?
- You have to think like a child. I've always been a bit of a clown, but like geniuses have to be a little crazy, those who imagine goodies have to think like children or clowns.

- Children are the most difficult customers? Or who is to reach is the parents?
-The clientele is continually renewed with new guests to the party, so you have to invest more in young people. It is a fork of wider age and are more attentive to the new breakthrough and challenging bets. It is an extremely difficult and critical consumer, but if you manage to build loyalty, you can have it in the long term. As for the mothers, we must motivate them with subliminal messages related to the quality and health of the sweets, which is quite true.

-Which are the consumers that more sweets eat?
-Central Europeans can multiply by three or four the average Spanish consumption, which is two and a half kilos per person per year. In Germany or the Netherlands it can be around six kilos.

"The fact that sweets are unhealthy is a myth: gelatin or glucose are all proteins and sugar is healthy for the brain, as in everything there must be a balance"

- And the most demanding?
-The European always, the Germans, the Dutch ... That's where the concept was born, the cradle is in those countries and there, of course, the level of demand is higher. There one tends more to the search of the natural, the aromas and the dyes are more natural.

- Is that the future? What will be the perfect treat?
-Under my point of view, the perfect treat is already close. It would be the compendium of all the good that you already have. It would have a reduction of thirty percent sugars. Below that level is not good, because you lose the pleasure or fun of the product. The sweets in which the sugars are totally replaced by artificial sweeteners are not only healthier, but have a laxative effect that usually discourages consumers. And after natural aroma and coloring, that already exists.

- And what is the future of Fini? To reach more countries? To more consumers?
-Welding the world is our goal. We are analyzing the creation of our third productive plant in some other country; it has yet to be defined which one, to help us in our expansion. We have to be a company of the world and we are in that work. We are already exporting to a hundred countries, but I always say that quality is more important than quantity. What we have to do is improve our way of working in each of those countries.

The president of the Murcian group Sánchez Cano, during the interview, in the lounge of a hotel in Madrid. Photo: Isabel Permuy

- Does that big expansion let you sleep? Your company is trying to compete as equals with large US multinationals like M & M's?
-Ummmm. Yes ... Well, let's see, it's like everything, when you learn to do a job, you do not think about the reasons why it comes out, it's something that is innate and that, with the daily exercise, you go a little developing . In that sense, any decision of any field you will see more accessible. In fact, when you have the need to decide at a certain level, it is because before there has been a development that has given rise to it. So, for example, our "USA project", which is what it is called internally, is after many years of maturation, meditation and study. This analysis simplifies the process of approaching the market. A market, it is true, very difficult, very demanding, especially for how competitive it is.

-Thanks to its presence in so many different markets, perhaps it has a privileged view of the international situation. Where is the world going in economic terms?
-I am one of those who bet on emerging countries, I think that is where there is more to do, work and develop. Hence our commitment in 2000 to go to Brazil. We saw that it was a country in which everything was to be done and the challenge was served, in the sense that there was really little demand for the kind of goodies that we made and based on effort, imagination, insistence, tenacity, we have gone forcing the development. We are trying to do the same in the rest of Latin America. In Europe it is already an older task, which we have already much more advanced. As far as Asia is concerned, I do agree that it is the most difficult market, so diverse, so varied and really because it may have had a different development from the rest of the world.

"The perfect candy is close, it would have a reduction of 30% sugars, below that level the product's pleasure will be lost"

Are they more closed markets? Are there more obstacles to enter countries such as China?
-In China it's more a price issue. It is a country in which local prices prevail, excessively low, accompanied by mediocre quality. The differentiating problem of China is that those products with such low quality present them as if they were "delicatessen", confusing the consumer. It is not easy to penetrate a product of the level of quality and European price, which is higher. It is not easy to market there. There, I understand that this work will be slower, but not impossible.

-You have Halal products, Kosher ... Do you have to offer differentiated offer by country or culture? How are they received?
-With very good eyes. European delicacies enjoy a very good reputation in the Middle East, which makes them receptive, although it is easier to meet Halal product requirements than Kosher products, especially high grade seals, because they require specific production lines. We could say that we are the Spanish company best prepared to serve those markets and, currently, we are moving by a production of more than seven hundred tons per year and with more than five hundred certified references as Halal-Kosher.

- Does consumption have any relationship with the economy? When we are in crisis do we consume more sweets to sweeten our lives or is it a luxury that can be dispensed with?
- Unlike what you can think, our company has always experienced higher growth in times of crisis. Perhaps also because it has forced us to take imagination, to adapt, to try to listen to the consumer a lot. But also, always, a treat is a small luxury, a very pleasant product, of enjoyment and very low price. With which, however bad your economy is, always gives for a little whim.

-And now they are growing less? Is a new crisis looming, as some economists predict?
-The crises I see more at the level of countries. A country can be in crisis depending, say, on the type of government it has, the capacity or quality of the management of that government ... But the crisis in companies is something different, because a company is like a nucleus. Normally, it does not affect the crisis from one company to another. A company may be in crisis, but that does not mean that it is the sector or the country. I do not see a relationship. In fact, our company takes an isolated, different course, which is not linked to the economic moment neither of the country nor of the world market.

- How do you see the economic moment of Spain?
-Spain has a lot of talent and an increasingly innovative business fabric that has managed to weather the adverse economic context and reinvent itself. There are aspects to improve, but we have the bases to be optimistic. I dare to say that, at this moment, more than an economic crisis, we have a crisis of confidence due to the political doubts that we are facing and to which there is no clear answer. There, the moment is a little bit complex. We are seeing that short-term decisions are being made without taking into account the more paused demands that an economic development or an industry in a country demands.

"More than an economic crisis, we have a crisis of confidence due to the political doubts we are facing"

-What do we call short-term decisions?
-Decisions that make you maintain the status for a certain time, regardless of whether later you can continue to face those commitments that are being assumed.

- The uncertainty, political instability will take its toll on the Spanish economy?
-In the short term, no, because we continue to carry an inertia, but it is possible that in the medium term it will become that way. But I insist, more than the industry, that will damage the country.

- However, although your company is multinational, a large part of the business network is local. Is it more vulnerable? Or is there a great distance between official and real Spain?
-I'm a defender of Spain, I have a lot of faith in it, I think it's a great country. I think we are very lucky to live in this country. The Spanish industry will grow, it will strengthen, it will become more competitive, but it is evidently a task for entrepreneurs.

- Entrepreneurs like their parents?
"For my father," he said, "life was just work. For both, because there I put my mother. For them the company was a whole, its maximum ambition, and I would say even its emotion. In his case, that was the phrase that I heard at home, in fact, that's how I was raised. I, already from infante, already dedicated myself at home to do a thousand things of the company, went in the afternoons to work after school. That I have lived. Maybe, maybe the second generation, that exclusive delivery to understand that it is the only goal, is already going a bit breaking.

"A Spaniard consumes two and a half kilos of sweets a year, a German or a Dutchman, six kilos, the Central Europeans are the most demanding, that's where the concept was born"

-Would you choose?
-It was not necessary, it has always been a true honor and a pleasure to continue the family germ. Being president of the eighteen companies that make up a great company like Fini is a great responsibility, sometimes you feel alone, but then you look back and see the road you walk, look ahead and observe the path that remains to walk, the challenges, the projects , the dreams you aspire to fulfill, and that motivates you and gives you the energy to keep going. I, like my father, have always been an entrepreneur, I have not known another life, I can not even imagine it. In Spain, the figure of the entrepreneur is frowned upon and that vision has to change once and for all. Probably, some politicians who demonize us to divert attention from their own shortcomings and shortcomings are responsible, they follow policies that generate uncertainty in the market and employment.

- Is the next generation ready to take over? The one of the postwar period worked very hard so that their children had a better life, but the children of today do not work when leaving the class like you.
-They do not have it as easy as before. Now it is harder, harder, competitiveness is greater, the demand is greater and the complexity of the industries demands a preparation. Even something that was not so obvious before, such as experience, is demanded today. Experience is a vital need that helps you in the management of a company. On the other hand, before you could afford the luxury of acquiring it during the march.

-Although he makes mistakes? Are they more expensive today than before?
-Yes. Before we had a more demanding market, with which to a certain extent it tended to cover the demand. Today you have to generate it, the market is more demanding.

- Everything in Fini is sweet?
-Of course, I come to the company every day to have a good time. I think I am fortunate to have a job in which you have to be continuously dedicated to satisfying the tastes and palates of youth with suggestive things and try, in short, to offer a magical moment to consumers. I try to convey those feelings to all my workers.

The data of Candies Fini

  • Billing: 220 million euros
  • Sales: More than 100 countries
  • Employees: 2,000
  • Subsidiaries / delegations: USA, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Portugal


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