The Business Year

ES25_EC_Foro DE Marcas_Sofía Osborne

SPAIN - Economy

Sofia Osborne

President, Leading Brands of Spain Forum (FMRE)


Osborne is a Spanish company founded in 1772, which celebrated its 250 years of history in 2022, consolidating itself as one of the oldest family-owned companies in the world. Osborne’s management is currently in the hands of the sixth generation of the family. Osborne’s vision is to contribute to the consolidation of the reputation of Spanish gastronomy worldwide. The company owns internationally renowned brands such as 100% Iberian acorn-fed ham Cinco Jotas, Rioja wines from Bodegas Montecillo, Jerez brandy Carlos I, Riofrío caviar, or Nordés gin, among others. Currently, Osborne is present with its various brands in more than 50 countries. The company complements its business of manufacturing and marketing its own brands with the distribution in Spain and Brazil of important third-party brands. International development, long-term vision, diversification around gastronomic products, proximity to the consumer, obsession with quality, sustainability, respect for tradition, innovation, and investment in its brands to consolidate its leadership and premium positioning are the backbone of Osborne’s strategy. Osborne’s values, the basis of the company’s management and shared by all members of the organization, are authenticity, mastery, commitment, and visionary spirit. The company channels its social activity through the Osborne Foundation. Likewise, Osborne owns the legendary Osborne Bull, internationally recognized as one of the great brands in the history of advertising, and an icon of Spanish culture.

"Challenges vary depending on the target country. FMRE has conducted studies on Spanish companies’ experiences in China and the US, providing valuable insights."
TBY talks to Sofia Osborne, President of Leading Brands of Spain Forum (FMRE), about the evolution of the industry, plans for 2024, and challenges for contemporary Spanish branding.
How would you assess the evolution of FMRE in the last three years?

There have been several projects aimed at promoting Spanish brands and assisting companies in internationalization efforts. The growth potential is significant. What I appreciate most is the close collaboration between the private and public sectors. By partnering with different public entities, FMRE has been able to assist companies in their development. Collaboration is essential for a country’s progress. Together, we are stronger, and it is crucial to align our growth efforts.

What criteria does FMRE use to identify leading brands in their respective industries?

FMRE considers several factors including a strong corporate reputation, at least one flagship Spanish-origin brand, significant recognition in the Spanish market, a notable international projection, with international business accounting for at least 25% of total income, leadership within their sector, operating primarily under their own brand, representing at least 75% of total income, and meeting minimum size requirements based on sector and annual income. These criteria are essential for membership application approval.

As you celebrate your 25th anniversary, what initiatives have you planned for 2024?

Our annual conference in November is a significant event for FMRE, focusing on the Spain brand. In 2024, we will introduce a study measuring the social impact of Spanish companies on societal well-being. Additionally, we have the ’España ES+’ project, which includes a bilingual publication, an annual book on Spanish brands, and a content platform covering topics like well-being, design, internationalization, and creativity. We launched this project last year. It provides information, presentations, videos, and statistics sourced internationally, showcasing Spain’s strengths in areas like design. It is an excellent tool for strengthening the Spanish brand.

What are some key challenges Spanish brands face when entering international markets, and how does FMRE assist them?

Challenges vary depending on the target country. FMRE has conducted studies on Spanish companies’ experiences in China and the US, providing valuable insights. For instance, with Grupo Osborne’s expansion into China, we learned the importance of local presence. By establishing a Chinese headquarters, we better accessed the market. Similarly, understanding cultural nuances and regulations is crucial. FMRE’s public-private collaborations have facilitated market entry, as seen in our success obtaining permits to export our top luxury Spanish ham 5J to China.

Do you have missions planned for the US and China?

FMRE has conducted missions in nine countries, including the UAE and Russia. Our Friends of the Spanish Brand project, which honors individuals and institutions supporting the Spanish brand, will soon visit Houston, Texas. Additionally, we have Honorary Ambassadors of the Spanish Brand, a public recognition program, acknowledging individuals’ contributions to Spain’s positive image abroad supported by the Royal House. In this sense, we are honored to have His Majesty King Philip as Honorary Chairman of FMRE. As for China, we are organizing an ‘inspirational trip’ in which a group of Spanish managers will visit technology companies.

What are some success stories of companies that are part of FMRE?

Establishing a presence abroad is complex due to regulations and unfamiliarity with foreign markets. For example, Cosentino with their brand Silestone found success in the US market due to their high-quality products. Inditex and Santander have also expanded internationally successfully. In the food sector, we are working to promote brand recognition beyond just Spanish origin, akin to the textile industry’s global recognition. Melia Hotels has ventured into China, demonstrating the diverse opportunities across sectors and regions.

Regarding the ‘Brand and Innovation program’, what strategies and tools does it offer?

This program, a collaborative effort between FMRE, the Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade (ICEX), the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM), and a business marketing school, targets SME CEOs. It emphasizes the positive impact of innovation and design on company growth. Launched in 2020, the program offers five days of experiential training, including site visits. Participation is open to CEOs of Spanish companies with annual revenues exceeding EUR4 million, particularly those with international activities and a focus on branding and design. This edition includes companies such as Europair, Tec Container, and Pablosky, representing various sectors. FMRE’s diverse projects aim to support companies across industries in their international development efforts.

What are your main goals and priorities this year?

As FMRE celebrates its 25th anniversary, we aim to highlight our accomplishments and project our future initiatives. Born out of the initiative of 17 companies, FMRE now boasts over 150 members. Public-private collaboration remains crucial, as we strive to elevate the collective value of Spanish brands globally. Our activities, including the annual conference, international missions, and collaborative projects, all contribute to this goal. Through these efforts, we aim to strengthen Spain’s brand image and showcase its diverse offerings to the world. Furthermore, visibility through tourism is an important aspect of what we do. Spain being a major tourist destination, companies are working to offer tourist experiences to share their products and take advantage of the flow of people tourism attracts. We want tourists to not only enjoy our beautiful country but also to remember our products and feel the desire to buy them back home.



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