The Business Year

Ligia Bonetti Du-Breil

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Economy

Making The Right Moves

Executive President & CEO, Grupo SID

Bio

Ligia Bonetti Du-Breil holds an economics degree from Wheaton College. In 2001, she held the Vice Presidency of MercaSID until her appointment as Executive President and CEO at Grupo SID in 2015. She is a member of several public and private entities and charity. Recently, she received the honoris causa doctorate from Wheaton College.

TBY talks to Ligia Bonetti Du-Breil, Executive President & CEO of Grupo SID, on the strategy behind the company's long and storied history of mergers and acquisitions, the role innovation has played in ensuring competitiveness, and plans to supply overseas markets.

Which mergers and acquisitions have been the most strategically beneficial for Grupo SID?

Our history as a company is filled with strategically advantageous acquisitions, mergers, and partnerships. As an oil manufacturer focused on producing edible oils and fats our process, by the very nature of its chemical interactions, left us with a derivative product; the raw material of most soaps, which led us into the detergent and soap industry. In the 1970s, we formed a strategic alliance with Unilever, which gave us the license to produce its brands here. In the 1990s, we began to realize that FTAs would play a much larger role in shaping the economic activity of the future and that we needed to expand our product portfolio to take full advantage of this system, so we started to explore strategic alliances with multinationals, especially American corporations, and became the exclusive distributor of Kellogg’s, General Mills, Hershey, and Kimberly-Clark products. After our success with Miller, Diageo approached us in 2014-2015, and our fastest growing business is now alcoholic beverages. Just last year we ended our non-compete agreement with Unilever. Serendipitously, the Colgate factory across the street recently closed, and we were able to purchase both the site and factory. In 2017, we will celebrate out 80th anniversary, and over those 80 years we have grown from a humble oil company into a large, diversified conglomerate that offers a huge variety of leading consumer products.

What latest innovations and technologies are changing the productivity and efficiency of your brands and processes?

We try to have state-of-the-art technology in all of our plants. Most of our processes are automated, standardized, and fully certified. The most important technological innovation, at least in the last 10-12 years, has been the automation of our warehouse management system. The layout of the warehouse, the loading and unloading, the shipping processes, and the storage methods are all considered. Handheld devices also give salesforce employees the ability to not only take orders, but to see real-time inventory information and client history too. The distribution system is also automated to a degree, leveraging GPS, complex territory planning methods, and highly tailored management plans to help us efficiently deliver products to our more than 45,000 points of sale. As a country, we have many inefficiencies, with electricity being number one, education being number two, and the capriciousness of the government’s taxation and regulatory schemes being number three. As a company, the only way we can overcome these inefficiencies is to have the best technology in place in every process of our business.

What is your long-term vision for Grupo SID?

One of our main goals is to maintain strong levels of innovation. Innovation, in my view, must continue to develop regardless of whether we are talking about products, manufacturing facilities, or distribution systems. This emphasis naturally translates into great products, which, at the end of the day, is what keeps us thriving. Our future lies beyond the Dominican Republic; we have strong brands and international quality products, and there is no reason why we cannot export many of our products. In the future, I want a consumer in New York to be able to go into any supermarket in the city and find one of our products. Additionally, demographic trends illustrate that American consumers are likely to become more ethnically diverse, and we are well positioned to capitalize on that diversity. We constantly strive to add high-quality products to our already sizable portfolio. We are committed to expanding our reach across the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean, and, eventually, the globe. We have a young, dedicated team here, and it is focused on taking this firm to the next level.

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