Galletas Fontaneda y United Biscuits

Leadership in the Midst of a Crisis



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Language: Spanish
also available in English
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Case Study


This case is about how a small town joined together and fought to keep a biscuit factory open that was deeply rooted in their community. The biscuit factory Fontaneda (United Biscuits) did not just provide jobs for many of the locals in Aguilar de Campoo (Spain), the community also relied on it for things like building a school or bus stop. However, the factory operated at only 30 percent capacity, leading them to announce the transfer of all workers and the closure of the factory in 2002. This led to a crisis with lots of backlash and a major confrontation between the workers, citizens and the multinational, which became a public relations disaster for the company. Politicians and union leaders also stepped in, mobilizing against the closing. The case walks readers through the seven months of negotiations between the parties and describes how the crisis was managed. Eventually, the factory was sold to Siro, excluding the brand, and workers were given options to move to another United Biscuits plant, to retire early or to work under Siro. Although there were tough moments during the negotiation process, this was seen as a victory by the union headquarters, and during 2002 and 2003, United Biscuits strongly exceeded its financial performance.

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