How do you go from one store in 2006 to 44 (and 28 concessions) in six countries today? Clever experimentation to build a cool brand in the right niche, to execute a brilliant growth strategy, and a unique company culture are some of the key factors of El Ganso’s success story.
“You have to be stubborn and believe that things will turn out right, even if you haven’t succeeded after the tenth attempt” (Rafa Nadal). This message is framed and prominently displayed in Álvaro’s office, the co-founder of the fashion retail company El Ganso1. As with any successful entrepreneur, intelligent persistence is instilled in his and his brother’s daily work.
Álvaro and Clemente Cebrián’s achievements, the founders of El Ganso, one of Spain’s fastest-growing fashion brands, are astonishing. In only 7 years, in the midst of one of the worst economic crises ever, the firm has grown from scratch to €36M in turnover today. They opened the first store in 2006 with bold trousers, which they then sold at multi-brand stores. At the end of 2013, they had developed an internationally known brand, defined as the “spirit of El Ganso,” and successfully opened 44 stores and 28 concessions in 6 countries including the UK, France, Portugal, Chile, México and Spain.
This is a great story when compared to the well-known statistics about the survival of new ventures: 3 out of 4 start-ups fail2. Furthermore, 70% of those failures come from a too-early expansion (premature scaling)3. Understanding how to grow a firm is not obvious. Indeed, firm growth is a rich and difficult-to-grasp phenomenon. Entrepreneurs face multiple, often simultaneous, decision points in a relatively short period that signify either the firm’s turning point to achieve the next level, or the beginning of a decline that may kill the venture. We summarize these choices as the what, when and where to grow a company. Underlying the three decisions is always the how to rightly execute them. It looks like El Ganso has found the formula…