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The global fashion business journal

Jun 13, 20247:02pm

Juan Roig: the Spanish supermarket tycoon that set his eyes on fashion start-ups

He was born to do business. Juan Roig started from a very young age to work in food distribution. However, the entrepreneur has also bet on other projects through Lanzadera, the start-up accelerator that he launched in 2013 and has backed so far 200 companies.

Jun 8, 2018 — 10:00am
L. Molina

Juan Roig: the Spanish supermarket tycoon that set his eyes on fashion start-ups



From disruption within traditional businesses to searching for innovation far beyond the food industry. Juan Roig, chairman of Spanish supermarket giant Mercadona, has developed a flair for detecting potential in young businesses. In 2013, the tycoon launched Lanzadera, a start-up accelerator that has backed with twenty million euros nearly 200 companies in the last five years.


Juan Roig was born in October 1949 in Valencia, in the bosom of a large family. His father ran the company Cárnicas Roig, located in the Valencian town of Pobla de Farnals, where Roig soon became familiar with the ins and outs of food distribution. In 1977, the parents of the investor and businessman decided to transform their butcher shops into grocery stores, giving birth to Mercadona.


After graduating in Economics at the University of Valencia and thanks to the experience acquired in the family business, Roig acquired Mercadona from his father together with his wife Hortensia Herrero and his siblings Fernando, Trinidad and Amparo Roig. Juan was the one who assumed the management of the company, which had eight stores at that time of approximately 300 square meters each.





In 1990, the Roig and Herrero marriage got a majority stake in the supermarket chain, impregnating thereafter a business philosophy based on the investment of profits in the expansion of the company. Under the direction of Roig, Mercadona was the first Spanish company that in 1982 began to use scanners to read bar codes at the points of sale.


In 1988, the group opened a fully automated logistic center in Riba-Roja de Túria (Valencia), at the same time that it initiated its growth strategy through purchases with the acquisition of the Valencian supermarket chain Superette, which would be followed by other purchases in the later years.


At present, Mercadona operates with 1,627 stores in Spain and employs 84,000 people. The company ended fiscal 2017 with sales of 22,915 million euros and a net profit of 322 million euros.





Besides leading Mercadona, Juan Roig has been honorary president of the Spanish Association of Commercial Codification (Aecoc, by its initials in Spanish), president of the Institute of Family Business (IEF) and vice president of the Spanish Association of Self-services and Supermarkets (Asedas). Currently, the Spanish tycoon is vice president of the Escuela de Empresarios (Edem) and holds the High Distinction of the Generalitat Valenciana in recognition of his entrepreneurial character. In June 2007, Roig was awarded the title of ‘Doctor Honoris Causa’ by the Polytechnic University of Valencia.



Lanzadera: five years propelling business 'rockets'

In 2013, Roig launched Lanzadera, a start-up accelerator of private equity companies. Based in Valencia, the project of the supermarket tycoon currently offers five different programs. The first, with the name of its namesake organization, is a nine-month acceleration program that offers advice, adapted financing and training for the development of entrepreneurial projects. The program is constantly open and entry months are January, May and September.


Lanzadera also has Garage, an incubation program of up to eleven months in which a first product prototype is developed, as well as its market validation and the implementation of the business model. Campus, on the other hand, is an initiative that Lanzadera offers to entrepreneurs from the Escuela de Empresarios (Edem) in Valencia to receive advice and develop their project. Corporate, on the other hand, encompasses innovation promotion initiatives that Lanzadera has launched within other corporations. The last program of Lanzadera is that of online specialization.


During the last five year, more than a thousand Spanish entrepreneurs have passed through the facilities of Lanzadera. The start-up accelerator has backed nearly 200 new companies, which have generated 420 jobs. In 2020, the goal is to promote 200 companies simultaneously.





Lanzadera is part of Marina de Empresas, Roig’s cluster for training and support to entrepreneurs based in Valencia and inaugurated by himself in September 2017. Marina de Empresas also encompasses Edem and Angels Capital, the entrepreneur's investment vehicle.

Among the companies in which Angels invested in the past there is a fashion brand: the jewellery firm Vicente Gracia. Roig’s investment vehicle took a minority stake in 2012 to boost the launch of the company and it exited share capital only a year later.


Some of the fashion projects driven by Lanzadera have worked better than others. Sustainable fashion brand Slow Artist, one of the selected for the third edition of the accelerator program, went into liquidation in 2017, the same year in which Baravento operations ceased, another of the labels backed by Lanzadera.


On the other hand, Dotten, specialized in men’s shirts, was launched in 2014 with the second edition of the program and just within eleven months opened three stores in Spain. However, the company has reduced its brick-and-mortar network and currently has a single store in Barcelona.

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