Aside from chestnuts, in the past three years the Grupo Cuevas have become known for having designed supermarkets in which the objective is to make shopping an enjoyable experience. This Ourense company moved from product innovation to distribution innovation as a di!erent way to reach their clients. In this manner, the new generation supermarket was born in 2008 called the ‘Aquié’ with establishments in Ourense and O Porriño (Pontevedra).


chestnuts, providing them (fresh or frozen) to Galician immigrants in Belgium, Germany, France, Mexico, and Argentina who feel nostalgia for one of the star products of the land where they were born. The General Director of the company, Artur Yuste, described that “one of our greatest successes was a result of applying innovation,” from which emerged the creation of a Spanish brown glaze in 1980 that has an appearance and similarity to that of the French which was the only country that, up to that time, knew this formula for conserving chestnuts. This product of Ourense contains more sugar which makes it sweeter and “is more satisfying,” according to the General Director, at the same time that it gives "more flavour to the chestnut". It can be eaten in desserts but also on toast with foie or had with turkey or with wild fowl, among other combinations.

Today, 80% of the brown glaze consumed in Spain carries the seal of Grupo Cuevas whether in its traditional presentation (each unit individually wrapped and vacuum packed) or in alternative formulas such as soaked in brandy, confectioned with ginger, the wine of Jerez, or covered with dark chocolate. After the brown glaze, the Chef Cuevas products arrived with which this company of Ourense began a new line of processed chestnuts that permit its marketing in sugar syrup, purées, creams, and garnishes with the objective of increasing consumption options.

Nowadays, aside from chestnuts, the brand stands out for having innovated their distribution with the new generation ‘Aquié’ supermarket with establishments in Ourense and O Porriño (Pontevedra). Initiated in 2008, this line is trying to “reduce the boredom of the consumer when shopping” with a strategy that turns on four axes: economic prices, good use of time, health and flavour. "That is, we stop making the shopping and we begin to go shopping,” the General Director of Grupo Cuevas summarised.

The design of ‘Aquié’ supermarkets was specially contemplated to facilitate shopping by making it faster and more comfortable, based on the distribution of their products. In this way, products that the client finds just upon entering are those for daily consumption, as is the case with fresh foods (fruit, vegetables, meats, fish), and as they continue through the store, clients find produncts that go beyond daily shopping and tend to be items that are bought once a week or once a month, such as cleaning and hygiene products. This concept is improved with the initiatives of a single line with multiple registers in order to save time as well as to provide an anti-stress environment, avoiding aggressive offers or strident music. To all of that, we must add that average prices are the same or less than those of the competition, especially in the fresh foods sector. Moreover, there is a clear dedication to the environment such as offering a discount of 3 cents of one Euro to the shopper for every plastic bag that he or she does not use, among other proposals.

The QFH (Qué Facemos Hoxe which means What do we eat today?) section is one of the characteristic elements of ‘Aquié’ supermarkets. It offers a menu that is "nutritionally balanced, flavourfull, and natural" composed of a first dish, a second dish, dessert, and a drink. The menu is different every day and is elaborated by a team of nutritional experts that collaborate with the University of Vigo concerning the ‘Cátedra Cuevas’ brand. In order to enjoy these foods, clients have three options: print the menu which includes all of the nutritional information and prepare it with what they have at home; take home the raw ingredients already measured in portions to be cooked later; or buy the dishes already prepared and ready to be consumed. This initiative is framed within the policy of Business Social Responsibility (RSE) of the group in favour of the diffusion of the Galician Atlantic diet on which the recipes that are selected daily are based.

The success of the "Aquié" was ratified in 2009 as it was the only Spanish project to receive a prize at the World Retail Awards in the category of Innovation and, that year, the company became one of the six most innovative companies of the world in the field of distribution. In addition, the optimal functioning of this brand was also recognised by the annual growth of the volume of business of 22.6% in the last business cycle, “very much above the average for the sector,” they revealed.

In light of the good results of the ‘Aquié’ supermarkets, the Cuevas Group has taken another step with the ‘Plenus’ supermarkets and the signs of identity are the promotion of fresh products (fruit, meats, and fish) the increased profesionalism of their employees (to whom they offer initial as well as continual training), a more competitive sales policy, and a “fun and young” presentation of the installations and products that, in the words of Yuste, result in a store that is “less supermarket and less inhibited.”

The objective is to end 2011 with eight centres open and, before 2013, to have ‘Plenus’ stores located in all four Galician provinces with some 20 supermarkets distributed throughout urban and rural areas. This franchise is “completely Galician and is capable of competing in terms of quality and price with the large distribution groups” whose marketing strategy is centred on the reduction of costs so that each franchiser can openly compete. Yuste explained that “the manager only has to sell because the rest (marketing, promotions, supply, merchandising...) is taking care of by Grupo Cuevas.”

INNOVATION IS A HIGHWAY TO BE TAKEN IN ORDER TO achieve the objective of reaching the client. For that reason, it is fundamental that this highway is as fast as possible in order to arrive at the destination earlier. For us, innovation is a formula of work that searches for targets in the market and gives maximum value to the products”. Artur Yuste


In 2010, Grupo Cuevas obtained 84 million Euros from its business, an increase of 6% over that of 2009. Looking toward 2011, their objective is focused on reaching 94 million Euros. Of this total, close to 2% is destined for innovation, an investment that accompanies the numerous types of assistance received from organisms that depend on the Regional Government of Galicia such as the Energy Institute of Galicia (Inega) and the Galician Institute for Economic Promotion (IGAPE), or the Galician Plan for Research, Innovation, and Growth (I2C) of the Regional Ministry of Economy and Industry.

The General Director of this company with more than 400 employees with very diverse professional profiles believes that “the objective is not always to make money but to adapt to the market and situate oneself well within it.” Yuste stated that “we are radically obligated to innovate because the economic situation is very bad but it is not definitive. We have to get out of it and in order to do that, we cannot remain still.” For Grupo Cuevas, innovation permits the company to “take the chestnuts out of the fire".