Lights and shadows in the 130 years of Gullón: from family troubles to popularizing María biscuits in Spain

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In 1892, the Zamorano confectioner José Gullón Barrios founded Galletas Gullón in Aguilar de Campoo (Palestine). In these 130 years, the company has grown to become one of the main biscuit makers in the country and a source of pride for the entire region that lives from it. A story with lights, but also with many shadows that we will reveal in the following lines.

Since its inception, it soon became a benchmark for biscuits in Spain. During the Spanish civil war, despite the serious difficulties through which the country went through, Galletas Gullón managed to maintain its production levels and ensure a supply.

Gullón old factory.

But its 130-year history has two important milestones. The first has to do with the process of diversification into traditional products that began in 1950. That led him to popularize the famous Maria biscuits in Spain that, although they originated in London, in our country they became a symbol of economic recovery due to the fact that bakeries produced them massively.

It would also bring to the market the golden toasted cookies, the wafers and donuts dipped in chocolate, pastries, etc.

And then in 1986, Gullón launched the first wholemeal cookie (with vegetable oils), which gave rise to the creation of the healthy biscuit segment, until then non-existent in Spain.

Gullón Biscuit Truck in 1959.

Gullón Biscuit Truck in 1959.

some shadows

A little before that release, specifically in 1979, María Teresa Rodríguez is in charge of the biscuit maker after the death at the age of 40 of her husband, José Manuel Gullón, the third generation that led the biscuit company.

Without much idea of ​​running the company and with her four children still underage, the matriarch pulled the car hand in hand with Martínez Gabaldón, the man who would soon become her right-hand man and with whom they have no family ties. The manager, little by little, was monopolizing power to the point of owning about 20% of the shares of the company while the children barely touch 4% each.

His rapid rise did not please the three brothers. So two clear sides soon formed in the face of the coming war: the three brothers facing the trio formed by their mother, their sister Lourdes and Gabaldón.

Lourdes Gullón, the new president of Gullón, together with her mother, former executive president.

Lourdes Gullón, the new president of Gullón, together with her mother, former executive president.

And in 2009 the crisis broke out that ended in a legal battle. The sons tried to strip their mother of all her powers, even going so far as to ban her from the factory. Something that ended in an almost unusual event in the business world: a shareholders’ meeting held in a Mercedes with María Teresa Rodríguez, her daughter, Martínez Gabaldón and a notary public due to the impossibility of entering the company.

Here the three brothers were expelled again, although in 2014 they would return to the council, and five years later they would leave again. These saw how in 2019 a new generational change took place: María Teresa Rodríguez handed over the presidency of the company to her daughter Lourdes.

The last chapter was written last year with the departure of the youngest of the four brothers, Félix Gullón, from the family business. Félix reached a purchase agreement with Cerealto Siro Foods to acquire their biscuit factory in Jaén as part of his new personal project.

Félix Gullón, CEO of Family Biscuits.

Félix Gullón, CEO of Family Biscuits.

The youngest of the Gullóns – who held the position of director of Expansion – left the company with the feeling of having hit rock bottom and the null possibility of evolving within it, where, as we have already remembered, he shared a side with two of his brothers : Hernán (Export Director) and Rubén (Responsible for Planning).

figures

Despite family quarrels, Galletas Gullón is a symbol of prosperity for Aguilar del Campoo and the surrounding regions. Gullón’s turnover in 2020 exceeded 400 million euros in 2020 (specifically 408.7 million euros).

Currently, the company generates 1,700 direct jobs, without taking into account the generation of indirect jobs. It maintains an average employment growth rate of about 100 new permanent workers each year.

Galletas Gullón has more than 700 references of different products that range from traditional biscuits for breakfast (Maria and Toast), to a complete range of healthy biscuits (whole grain, with fiber, low in calories, ecological, without cholesterol, passing through those dipped in chocolate, wafers, sandwiches or cookies), among other specialties.

The Galletas Gullón brand has a sales volume share of 8.6% of the Spanish market. However, in the category of healthy cookies, the cookie maker has a market share of 35% in sales volume and 60% of the share of the sugar-free segment, according to company data.

In addition, it is one of the main suppliers of Mercadona, the leader in distribution in Spain with a 25% market share, according to data from the consulting firm Kantar.

The products made in Aguilar de Campoo are exported to more than 120 countries. Currently, the company has subsidiaries in Portugal, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. At an international level, turnover represents close to 40% of the total, with continued growth forecast for the coming years.

Reference-www.elespanol.com

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