IADS Exclusive: De Prati, a perpetual evolution

IADS Exclusive July 2023 Selvane Mohandas du Ménil

Following the IADS CEO meeting in Mexico City last May, where IADS members were able to visit the latest developments in El Palacio de Hierro’s flagships (Coyoacan, Polanco and Perisur), the IADS had the opportunity to travel to Ecuador to discover the De Prati stores. The purpose was to understand more about the market, the company and the vision of the CEO, Priscilla Altamirano.

A rather small country when compared to its neighbours (Colombia and Peru), Ecuador is classified as an upper-middle-income country, with a developing economy dependent on exports (agricultural products, oil). The country regularly topped the South American GDP growth charts in the 00s and even ranked the second most performing country in 2022. Since 1999, extreme poverty decreased significantly, and employment increased, fueling the growth of the middle class which aspired to consume. 

De Prati, which was founded in 1940 in Guayaquil, the trading centre of the country, managed to fulfil these needs, becoming the largest department store company in the country, with 16 stores and an e-commerce website. Unlike its European counterparts, which had available resources to learn from each other and innovate (thanks to organizations such as the IADS, but also through a vast array of suppliers and brands, and the lack of regulation at the time which allowed unrestricted data exchange), De Prati, while always being the leader in the country, had to invent each step of its development by itself, by developing in-house what was needed and finding solutions on its own. 

The result is a company that has been posting an average EBIT margin of 20% and a net profit margin of anywhere between 13 and 15% for the last decade, with a much-loved retailer brand and strong social involvement. This is not too bad for a business that has developed almost in a closed circuit, which makes it an interesting use case to review the company’s competitive advantages, as well as the stores that we visited.

IADS provides its members with a weekly in-depth analysis on retail-oriented topics. This is an example of the themes the Association regularly addresses, and the topic of an article from the IADS members-only newsletter date 19 July 2023.

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