One of the novelties that the pandemic to people and also to companies was the need to be flexible Y adapt to environments, why Without new business models, it is very difficult to maintain activity and the pace of activity in a changing context.
So he knew how to read it Gabriela Benac, the entrepreneur who leads Blue light, the Buenos Aires SME that focused on growing in marketing. A model of deal integrated, who was not afraid of the situation and that already adds 44 franchises all over the country.
Benac is determined. When she took over Luz Azul, she had a history in the dairy sector and she knew that the road would be hard because of the business and because she was a mother of four and an entrepreneur in Argentina. But he didn’t stop. “I would like everyone to know Luz Azul,” he says. And it opens the door to show how this business model with which it continued to invoice is indoors, when others had no choice but to lower the blind.
– Tell a little about the company. How much do they produce and what are the product lines like?
– We elaborate in total some 70 thousand liters of milk per day for cheese, ricotta, dulce de leche and mozzarella. The rest of the products that we sell in our stores are through strategic alliances that we have developed with other brands such as Embutidos FOX, Molanes olives, TapaMania and Jugos Pura Fruta. Soon we will add the Casamontes winery and the Profecía candy line.
– What is the personnel payroll?
– We directly employ 120 people, of which 60 work in the factory and the same are in the commercial chain and the distribution center. Anyway, indirectly, if we consider franchises and associated companies, there are an additional 300 people. The average age of the workers is 40 and in general they are from the city of Azul.
– Do you get HR with the necessary training in the area?
– We have a hard time getting staff, especially in the Azul area, and that’s why we train them. We even had to hire people from other places. Today we have 6 professionals that we incorporated and Azul came to live.
– What has it been like to work during the pandemic?
– We made our own protocols in factory and premises with all the requirements. Signage, chinstraps, table with alcohol gel, lines on the floor to maintain distances and number of people per square meter. In the factory we take the temperature when entering all the employees. All personnel with chinstraps, adding the sanitary barriers that we already had (washing hands and boots) – What is the production level today?
– How are you dealing with the dairy crisis in the industry? Can an SME fight in such an adverse context?
– Unlike the rest of the SMEs, we work a lot in marketing. We will end up with more than 50 stores open. And the most important thing in the milk sector are the chains and sales. As we have our own chain, we have stability all year round.
Benac: “We are a dairy SME with the head of a large company”, just a year ago.
– Do you think that is why they could still grow in the pandemic?
– Yes, because we have a modern business format that adapts to the needs of the market. It targets a consumer who likes to eat something delicious at an absolutely competitive price. We achieve something that not many brands achieve, which is the real price-quality ratio. And we narrow that gap because we don’t have intermediaries.
– How many franchises do they have and in what areas of the country?
– We have 44 franchises distributed throughout the country. Our goal for this year is to close it with 50 stores in total. In these months, people who were dedicated to items that were completely stopped by the pandemic and other savers who saw that it is worth investing in a franchise of this brand, because in the midst of the global crisis and pandemic, sales tripled. We have 3 cases of franchisees who already had a store of the brand but they grew so much in these months that they wanted to open another and we see that all are betting on having more than 1 store.
– Did you change the business plan in the last few months?
– Yes, we changed the business plan because consumption changed. Much more cream cheese and staples were consumed. The gastronomic channel that demanded mozzarella and bar cheese disappeared, but that production turned into these more commodity products. In other words, we did not lose sales, but they were rearranged
– Are they financially healthy or do they need loans?
– Today we have full production capacity and the company is completely financially healthy.
– Finally, what are the bottlenecks that you have today to produce?
– Undoubtedly, in Argentina we need an urgent labor and tax reform that is hyper efficient to be able to earn money, otherwise the extortion of social charges and the strong impact of taxes make it very difficult to carry out the activity.
In the context that is lived “by being essential, our heading and business model showed that it is proof of pandemics and deep crises”, says Benac satisfied and assures that they plan to close this year, with more than 10 new openings throughout the country . “He who bets on Luz Azul, wins,” he says with a marketing tone. And with the balance of having had a great year despite everything.