Carlos Giovanelli

CHAIRMAN AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF HAVANNA

Argentina 2017  I  Industry  I  Interview

BIOGRAPHY He has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, having acted in several management positions at Citibank since 1980. He is currently the Chairman of Havanna, Degasa Holding, Degasa Investment and board member of Banco Macro, ICSA, among other companies.

“AS A RESULT OF OUR INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION STRATEGY AND DIVERSIFICATION TOWARDS THE CAFETERIA BUSINESS, TODAY HAVANNA OPERATES IN 12 COUNTRIES, WITH 212 STORES IN ARGENTINA AND 91 AROUND THE WORLD."  

HAVANNA IS CELEBRATING ITS 70TH ANNIVERSARY NEXT YEAR. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE COMPANY’S HISTORY?

 

Havanna is one of the most important brands representing Argentina internationally. The company is a leading manufacturer of food products renowned for its “alfajores”, which are considered amongst the best of Argentina. The Havanna brand represents craftsmanship, tradition, freshness and quality. It was founded in Mar del Plata in 1948 and in 1998, was acquired by Exxel Group for about USD 85 million.

 

Due to the collapse of the economy in Argentina between 1999 and 2002, the company was in a complicated situation with high levels of debt and was bought by us in 2003. From 2003 till present, Havanna has mutated from being the representation of Mar Del Plata in the local market to become an icon of Argentina in the international market.

 

THE COMPANY HAS BEEN HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL WITH ITS CAFES AND ITS MOVING FORWARD WITH AN AGGRESSIVE INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION PLAN. PLEASE TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR STRATEGY.

 

We have always believed in the potential of the company and it was clear for us that the most important was to care for the relationship between our brand and our customer. It is from this premise of excellence that we have decided to offer the quality and freshness of our products, and the warmth of our services outside of Argentina. Havanna is pioneer in the diffusion of specialized coffee shops, places designed with full comfort and a relaxing atmosphere where clients enjoy the high quality of Havanna products. Today, the Havanna Café stores are part of everyday urban life in the main cities of Argentina and other countries. Havanna is more than the best “alfajor”, it is a consumer experience in a warm and friendly, modern and innovating atmosphere, the Havanna Café.

 

Havanna exports “The Havanna concept” replicating the same model of specialized coffee shops development in Argentina. That is why, with an attitude of strong commitment to the customer and a very aggressive commercial expansion, now, and every day, you can find in various cities around the world the “Havanna Café”, or our stores in the best shopping centres. Our products are also distributed in premium supermarkets, delicatessen and in foreign and local airports.

 

As a result of our international expansion strategy and diversification towards the cafeteria business, today Havanna operates in 12 countries, with 212 stores in Argentina and 91 around the world.

 

Our principal goal is to be a key player in the segment of Coffee Shops and open new stores in the most important cities of the region. We are looking forward to be an Argentine company with global coverage, recognized for our “alfajores”, chocolates and excellence in customer service.

 

Our priority markets nowadays are Brazil, Mexico, Spain and the United States, where we will be opening the first shop in Florida this year and we have an investment plan of 80 new stores and stands in the next 10 years. As well, we are also looking for partners to develop our business in potential markets such as the Middle East and Asia.

 

HAVANNA’S IPO WAS THE FIRST IN ARGENTINA IN NEARLY SIX YEARS. WHAT WILL BE THE IMPACT ON THE COMPANY?

 

Argentina has returned to global bond markets in April 2016, after a 15-year hiatus and last year we decided that there was an opportunity to take our company public. Havanna’s IPO raised USD 11.47 million representing 10 percent of the company. The IPO was twice oversubscribed with seven percent of shares sold to overseas investors.

 

Our plan is to continue to invest in our international expansion and finance the construction of a new industrial plant in Batán, in Mar del Plata where we will concentrate our 3 plants and increment our capacity by 50%.