Viborel, Portugal’s biggest drinks distributor puts its success down to building strong ties with the likes of Cia Müller, the Brazilian producer of the world-famous Cachaça 51 rum, as General Manager João Braga explains.
João Braga is no stranger to big business. As the General Manager of Portuguese drinks distributor Viborel, he’s been pushing the company to the next level since 2008. It delivers legendary brands including Brazilian Cachaça 51 (market share leader), Quinta da Bacalhoa, Quinta do Carmo, Murganheira sparkling wines (market share leader), FAVAIOS sweet wines (market share leader), Champagne Laurent-Perrier, Perrier Waters, and Whyte & Mackay.
“When I joined Viborel we were a profitable but relatively low-profile entity,” he says. “My first goal was to form a marketing department to make the company even more professional.”
This decision set Viborel on a path that would see it collaborate with partners and sponsors at some of the biggest events in Portugal, including football teams and huge festivals.
“People started to acknowledge us, not just other industry players, but successful multinational companies too. We began working with Monster Energy in 2011 and three years later we were already in the top sales volume – higher than Red Bull, which had been at the top for more than 20 years. It’s a similar story with CapriSun; after three years we were the second biggest brand in the market.”
After a career spent at the forefront of organisational growth and development in import/export markets, it’s perhaps unsurprising that João was able to make such a progressive impact in only a few years. But the wealth of experience he brought to Viborel was earned through dedication and hard graft.
João explains: “I began working in the food industry, specifically in tomato paste, one of the most important agricultural industries in Portugal. We worked with clients from all over the world such as Heinz, Nestle, Craft Company, and Unilever, so it’s fair to say I have a lot of good contacts.”
These contacts – and João’s knowledge of the sector – have proven invaluable for Viborel.
“During my time in the tomato industry, I gained so much experience,” he says. “Viborel was already a successful company – profitable from year one – but I envisioned it as becoming even more professional and ultimately as one of the biggest distributors in Portugal.”
Lofty ambitions are exactly what one would expect from a man who has also started his own successful business. At the beginning of this century, João left the food industry to work with his wife, who had a business portfolio of French fashion brands. The duo started working with the likes of Lancel and JACADI, acting as agents. They witnessed behemoths H&M and ZARA Group enter the scene and the massive changes this brought with it. “It was only a business for rich global brand owners,” adds João. In 2005-06, he and his wife had 50 outlets across the country, before deciding to move away from the fashion business.
“In 2008 I was ready for something different. Why? I had a range of skills and experiences in the import/export business as well as on marketing and wanted to put this to good use” he explains.
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