In supermarkets overwhelms multinationals in revenues per mq. In 5 years 1,8 billion in new openings and renovations. And after a big struggle with Coop, it started to growth in Central Italy

The first supermarket opened in Milan, 1957

The first supermarket opened in Milan, 1957

«Never, never, never give up»: Bernardo Caprotti must have been touched on the 7th October 2015 when he turned 90 years old and found himself featured in the Corriere della sera and the Wall Street Journal with a page that was created at the behest of -and virtually signed by- the more than 22,000 people that collaborate with Esselunga, his brainchild, solely to wish him happy birthday.

The page certifies to the exceptional quality of a man who is so inseparable from his immense entrepreneurial ability and his commercial empire that they have become one and the same, despite his age. This is also due to the fact that Caprotti’s energy and lucidity remain practically unaffected and he still runs the group for all intents and purposes, albeit supported by an outstanding management team. In 2014 the commercial network, investments, number of employees and the principal parameters in the strategic profit and loss account saw growth: revenues rose to 7,013 billion euro, despite it being a difficult year that saw a decline in retail prices of 1.6%. Customer numbers rose by 8.5%. Ebitda totalled at 521 million (+3.2% compared to 2013), operating profits reached 335 million (+2%) and net profit was 212 million, an increase of 2 million compared to 2013.

Over the last five years the group has invested more than 1.8 billion euro in new openings and renovations. Development continued in 2015. Indeed, Caprotti added 1,900 people to his staff over the five-year period spanning the economic crisis and expects to continue recruiting in 2016. Amongst other things, after having opened the first store in the Lazio region in 2014, in Aprilia to be exact, Esselunga is set to land in Rome at the end of 2016. These are the figures of indisputable leadership in the Italian mass retailing sector, which has been achieved and maintained despite competition with foreign giants (including Auchan, Carrefour and Lidl) and cooperatives, which have undoubtedly hindered, where possible, the growth of their serious competitor. It is no coincidence that Caprotti stated he had run into obstacles when expanding his group in his book Falce e carrello (Sickle and Cart), especially in the so-called red regions.

Who knows if times can change and if we will finally see Esselunga supermarkets in Genoa. Loyal as he is to his character and personality – and rightly so - Caprotti has no intention of giving up. In fact, he has not given up on long-term projects even within fields that lie far outside of his sector, such as that of air transport, his true passion. Caprotti has been dreaming of a new intercontinental airport in Northern Italy for years, a project that would come to fruition in the large area consisting of Montichiari airport and the Ghedi military air base. Following his calling as someone with a strong propensity for finding the right locations, Caprotti would like to see Montichiari airport as the intercontinental hub of Northern Italy, in the heart of the Lombardy-Veneto-Emilia macro-region, which is served by three motorways and high speed trains.