How have you evolved as a company?
FARID GOZAINE Carta Vieja was established in 1915 and was a family business until 1996, when a group acquired the company. Since then, we have been trying to increase our rum production in the Panamanian market. We will keep looking to enter the international market because it is difficult to increase our market share in a small market like Panama. To that end, our strategy is to leverage the company's 100-year-old rum-making tradition. The focus is on introducing new products because the international market is always changing and incorporating new technologies and processes. As a company, we have to learn from other similar companies around the world; we cannot be behind the competition.
HERNÁN JUSTINIANI Cervecería La Rana Dorada started here nine years ago in September 2010 with our Via Argentina pub, and our clients loved what we did. The reason we got into the market is because we saw an opportunity to deliver more and better beers to Panamanians. We love craft beer and over the years had come to understand that people love to enjoy their beer as a lived experience that we have learned how to create. With that in mind, it was not difficult to see this brewery becoming more than just one pub. Today, we already have seven locations and will end the year with eight La Rana Dorada (the Golden Frog) pubs. The company has had a huge evolution, but this is just the beginning. We will have more locations in strategic spots both inside and outside the city center. We will also soon start franchising our brand.
What are your expansion plans?
FG There was a time when Carta Vieja's products were sold across five continents. In 1990, the company faced several financial problems, and as a result the founders sold it. Thereafter we started to slowly build up our product range and quality. We had the chance to increase our sales but in the rum market it is vital to maintain an inventory. In fact, the government requires us to store rum in a warehouse for three years. At Carta Vieja, we use American oak barrels to age our rums anywhere between three and 15 years, depending on the product quality and characteristics. Moreover, we have four rum brands, namely Claro, Extra Claro, Añejo, and our premium Golden Cask rum. We are working on developing new products by using the latest technology. When it comes to expansion, Russia has been an important market for us. We are the fourth-largest rum seller in Russia because of our strong relationships with supermarkets and importers. In 2018, we shipped about 10 containers to Russia. Our second-biggest market is the US; we have a significant presence in Florida for example. The US is followed by Bolivia. Moving forward, we will focus on China, Japan, and the rest of Latin America.
HJ Our group is already making some investments in the region, helping microbreweries to grow. We already have the knowhow to build a brewery and open a pub, so we saw an opportunity to have partners in countries like Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Our first goal with La Rana Dorada is to build what we planned from the beginning, which are strong roots in our home country. Then we can think about expansion abroad. Our expansion plan its based on finding those persons that already like our brand, people that has been our clients for years, and give them the opportunity to open their own Rana Dorada. Franchising is one of our biggest projects for the coming years, and we are very excited to have new partners all around the country.