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Brasmar reinforces its position with acquisitions and an increase in production capacity

Brasmar reinforces its position with acquisitions and an increase in production capacity

Brasmar, an invested company of the VigentGroup and MCH Private Equity, was founded in 2003 and currently assumes the position of Portuguese leader in the seafood industry. Besides being an important player in the transformation and marketing of codfish, the specialisation in the area of cephalopods is also a strategic investment.

Moved by the enormous passion for the sea, where its raw materials are found, the company is recognised for its quality, sustainability and food safety certifications.

Brasmar combines the ambition of reinforcing the solid quality of its products and a strong investment in cutting-edge technology.

Brasmar Group SGPS was created in 2019, and began managing the different companies operating in the seafood industry. Today, the Group has 700 employees (420 in Portugal) in the 6 countries in which Brasmar has commercial branches – Portugal, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Norway and the United States of America (Florida) –, in addition to the industrial units installed in Portugal, Spain and Norway. The company has a portfolio of clients in over 40 countries.

Interviewed by Logística Moderna, Vítor Gil Guimarães, Brasmar Operations Director, talks about the evolution of the activity and its production and logistic processes, as well as the internationalisation of the company.

Logística Moderna – Brasmar was created in 2003. What was its size back then and how did logistics function?
Vítor Gil Guimarães – Brasmar began operating in 2003 with 15 employees. Most of them are still part of the company’s structure, occupying management positions.
With a storage capacity of 1,500 m2, Brasmar was mainly focused on the marketing of shrimp/prawn, monkfish, hake, squid and red fish. During the first year, the company had a turnover of approximately 6 million euros, just in the Portuguese market. Almost 100% of the traded raw materials were imported and arrived in Portugal in sea containers. Brasmar assigned about 80% of the distribution to third parties and the remaining 20% was for our own small fleet.

Four years later (2007), the company creates a production unit and increases the storage area. What is the reason for this expansion?
When Brasmar started its activity, it resorted exclusively to external service providers to produce its products. With the growth of the business, the company felt the need to create its first production unit with 4,000 m2 and 3,000 m2 of storage area, in order to be able to support this growth.
Brasmar ended 2007 with a turnover of 23 M€, making the strategic decision to move towards its own production units. The main goal was to prepare infrastructures that would support future growth.


In 2008, the company starts to process fish and to soak and freeze codfish. Was this a market demand? In particular, which investments were made in terms of processes, employees, equipment and logistics?
We started to produce our products, as the whole production was externalised at the time. The entire process began to be controlled in-house and with a better responsiveness to our clients. Brasmar has always set itself apart by the diversity of the products marketed, the responsiveness and the customisation of the products.
Codfish was a demand from our clients, becoming a strategic investment for Brasmar’s growth. We had to invest in specific production lines for the cutting / soaking / deep-freezing / packaging processes, as well as for the hiring of technicians and experts in this field. The investment in this new business area was approximately 4.5 million euros.
With this increase in production capacity and sales volume, Brasmar felt the need to expand its distribution fleet with an investment of about 500 thousand euros.

The company expands its facilities again in 2012. Which installations were enlarged: the industrial or the storage area?
Our production area was expanded again in 2012 with an additional 4,000 m2, bringing it to a total of 8,000 m2. In that year, although Brasmar’s storage capacity was already insufficient, as we only had 3,000 m2, we chose to resort to external storage, thus creating a new complexity in the company’s entire logistics.


Later on (2016), the company enters a new business area (octopus) and creates a new logistics unit. At the factory level, which were the implications of entering the octopus market?
In 2016, Brasmar already had an established presence in the market, ending the year with a turnover of 150 million euros. Following an expansion strategy for the company, it was decided that specialised facilities for the processing of octopus be created. Octopus is the only product that can arrive fresh at Brasmar, directly from the catch of the day. In these cases, as with all octopus from the Brasmar Nacional range, the product arrives fresh at our facilities, where it is processed and packaged. With the establishment of this new area and a growth forecast for the following years, we rearranged the layout of the industrial sector, namely some production lines, to ensure a better production flow. We also needed to invest in specific equipment to process this product.
Still in 2016, we acquired all business shares of 2 companies specialised in dried salted codfish: Friaveiro, in Gafanha da Nazaré, and Grupomar, in Famalicão. Both companies are dedicated to the transformation of dried salted codfish. These acquisitions have reinforced Brasmar’s goals as a reference company in the production of codfish.

Which differences were introduced by the new logistics unit compared to the way the company was operating before?
With this 6,500 m2 expansion of our storage capacity, we obtained significant productivity gains and the resulting profitability.
It was possible to bring all pallets that were in rented freezing facilities to Brasmar’s premises, facilitating the management of raw materials and finished products, thus lowering the cost of logistics. It was also possible to carry out picking in a more efficient way, using the greater space available for this job.


And the company grows again in 2017, with an additional 6,000 m2 in the production unit, a rebranding and an internal reorganisation, namely regarding the production units. Could you give us an idea of the evolution of these units? When were they created and which changes occurred over time?
In 2017, Brasmar reaches a consolidated position in Portugal and has greater market expertise. The professional sector recognised Brasmar as a reference producer in terms of quality and good business practices.
In contrast, the brand was unknown to the end consumer. After understanding the relevance and the growing interest in Brasmar products, at the end of 2016, the incorporation of a marketing department was decided, responsible for the brand management and its rebranding. Brasmar’s new identity reflects the values of the company, which are reinforced through its “Passion for Seafood” signature. With a more modern image and a determined communication strategy, we got closer to our business clients and end consumers. Brasmar’s strategy was clear: continue to acquire new companies in the seafood industry and develop its production capacity in the Portuguese production units. In 2017, with the opening of the new production unit, the processing capacity of cephalopods increased to 80 tonnes per month. Today, thanks to continuous investments, this business area has the capacity to produce 500 tonnes per month.

What quantity of raw material was processed in the beginning and nowadays?
The evolution of the processed raw material is pretty substantial. We started with 150 tonnes/month and today our average processing capacity is 2,200 tonnes/month.


How do the production lines work? Are they dedicated to a single product or do they process several products? Do the company’s facilities operate at controlled or ambient temperature?
We have just a few lines dedicated to a single product. Our goal has always been to have a great polyvalence in order to meet the needs of the market. We have 18 packaging lines in our Trofa unit today. All production and logistics units operate at a controlled temperature. We work with positive and negative temperature, depending on the area and type of product.

Regarding equipment, how many cold stores do you have and how many square/cubic meters do these have?
Nowadays, our total cold storage capacity is 92,500 m3, distributed across 29 cold stores, with a total of 16,000 m2.

Is the transport carried out by the company or outsourced?
From the outset, we assumed that the distribution would not be completely carried out by us, because we could have partners guaranteeing us of a good service. We increased our fleet over the years and today we have 5 trucks and 3 vans to distribute our products in the northern area and on some routes in the central area. The remaining national and international distribution is ensured by external partners.

Which are the company’s main clients/distribution channels?
Brasmar’s products are aimed at both large-scale distribution and other distributors, as well as the HORECA sector and small traders. The portfolio of clients is very diverse and covers the entire Portuguese territory. At the international level, we have commercial teams assigned to specific markets or geographical areas, with a presence in the same channels as in Portugal.

With COVID-19, online sales have taken on a new importance. Does Brasmar have an online channel?
At the moment, Brasmar does not have its own online channel, but sees e-commerce as an opportunity for the industry in view of the current health situation. Brasmar’s key investment is to be positioned among consumers in convenience stores and large supermarkets.


Could you talk a little about the products, the brands and their rebranding?
In 2019, Brasmar acquired two Spanish companies within the industry that strengthened its Iberian position: NUCHAR and La Balinesa. NUCHAR is a company specialised in cephalopods, seafood and other ready-to-eat products, recognised in the hospitality sector and in international markets by the quality and safety of its solutions, which are produced in units with IFS Higher Level certifications, as well as by the premium service provided.
The brand based its rebranding on the company’s pillars: inspiration, innovation, food quality and safety, by simultaneously reinforcing its experience regarding sea products. This renewal allows NUCHAR to present itself in the market with renewed and highlighted branding in the points of sale, adopting the necessary flexibility for the different products in its portfolio and respective adaptation to the target.
In turn, La Balinesa is a Spanish family-owned company, which stands out for its premium smoked products, such as salmon and codfish. The company only uses traditional preservation methods in its products, learned from the best Norwegian and Scottish craftsmen. The rebranding was mainly based on the reinforcement of the positioning of the company as a brand of high-quality smoked products. The new image highlights La Balinesa’s traditional process, showcasing its signature “Art masters of traditional smoked products with noble woods”. The launching of the new image integrates the pillars inherent to the Group, among them the traditional processes and exceptional quality of the raw materials, representing a turning point for La Balinesa, which restructured its range of products, allowing new developments based on the consumer’s trends.

How are these acquisitions integrated in the internationalisation strategy of the company?
Brasmar is a company that strongly invests in its internationalisation, proving this is its presence in more than 40 countries around the world. The recent acquisitions of Foncasal and La Balinesa reinforced the importance of the international market to Brasmar, since exports correspond to more than 50% of the company’s turnover. If, on the one hand, the La Balinesa acquisition reinforced the national leadership of Brasmar, since we have increased our offer of premium smoked products, on the other, it strengthened our Iberian position, seeing as the acquisition enhanced Brasmar’s presence in Spain.
The NUCHAR (Foncasal) acquisition is also important in terms of internationalisation, given that the majority of its sales are in external markets, increasing Brasmar’s portfolio of cephalopods, namely in the area of cooked sea products.
Alongside these acquisitions, we aim to continue our internationalisation process, particularly in the Mediterranean region and the North American market, where we already have an office in Miami. The first because it is part of the area of influence where Brasmar is an important player, a position it aims to consolidate. In turn, regarding the American market, this is an opportunity due to its dimension and growing interest for high-quality sea products.

Read the complete interview  here.