ECUADOR - Industry
Executive President, Almacenes De Prati
Priscilla Altamirano has been with Almacenes De Prati for more than 20 years and has been its President since 2016. Previously, she was commercial vice president & vice president of purchasing. Under her leadership, Almacenes De Prati has managed and developed the digital transformation of its business with an omnichannel approach. She holds an MBA from Universidad Santa María de Chile and a diploma in strategic sales management from Tecnológico de Monterrey.
In addition to ensuing its production practices comply with sustainable industrial standards, De Prati also has initiatives to support vulnerable women entrepreneurs and local suppliers in Ecuador as well.
What is De Prati’s plan for the future, and what marks the company’s presence in Ecuador?
De Prati started in Ecuador in 1920 by an Italian couple that arrived in Cuenca. In 1940, they opened a shop in Guayaquil for imported fabrics to sell. That is how De Prati’s story began some 80 years ago. This Italian couple created the first commercial credit system in the country. Since 1968 to date, it has more than 1 million clients with active direct credit. De Prati started in Guayaquil with the opening of our first store, Luque. In 1996, we arrived in Quito with our first shop in Centro Comercial Quicentro Norte. Today, we have 14 stores—six in Guayaquil, seven in Quito, and one in Manta—plus the online store DePrati.com. The website, which was created in 2007, created an opportunity for the company to transform digitally, and this transformation was boosted by the pandemic. Our core business is women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing, and 75% of it gets produced locally. We indirectly generate local employment for 23,000 individuals through our suppliers.
How does De Prati work to create a productive capacity locally, and what positive impact does it have on a social and environmental level?
De Prati visits its suppliers’ factories to ensure they comply with the baselines of industrial security and that there are no child workers. We certificate and qualify our suppliers. Regarding social impact, we developed a social program for women manufacturing clothes. We teach women from vulnerable sectors of Guayaquil, Quito, and Manta to do manufacturing. Then, there is an entrepreneurial module, where we teach people how to create a business and handle social networking. We have transformed the lives of over 900 women who have impacted their families and their circle. From an environmental aspect, we developed our collection called Change, where we have already chosen around 30 local suppliers. They work solely with organic and recycled materials and natural accessories. This collection created an incredible impact on our clients, and everything was sold out.
How would you evaluate changes in consumer trends brought about by the pandemic?
When the pandemic started, people were confined to their homes, and we saw a boom in technology sales. We started to develop “comfort” collections. Once the lockdown ended, and life returned to normal, our strengthened technology remained. There is now a trend to change decorations and better organize spaces in people’s homes. The pandemic accelerated digitalization around the world. As part of its vision for the future, in 2007, the company created the platform DePrati.com, which has gained us a lot of experience through these 15 years. The pandemic found us with a strong and consolidated webpage. For us, there has been a process of educating our clients and having them trust a digital platform and the safe payment methods that we offer.
What plans does De Prati have in the short term for Ecuador?
De Prati has an expansion plan to ensure better coverage in the country in terms of stores. In early 2023, we will open a shop in Machala. We have high expectations in Machala and see great market potential. We are activating in Santo Domingo, Cuenca, and Ambato. Additionally, with our focus on omnichannel, De Prati’s priority is to improve and optimize logistics. We have started a project to invest in a new distribution center for the company. Additionally, we want to strengthen our program for women manufacturers. Our goal is to have this program in every city that we have a store in and encourage vulnerable women to become entrepreneurs. At De Prati, it is all about the company’s culture, what differentiates it, and makes us who we are. This company, with its values, has transformed the lives of our collaborators. Everything is thanks to this culture of believing in our people and their development.
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