Let’s go back 20 years to the year in which the Market changed its working hours. What’s the first thing that comes into your head?
I remember the meeting where all the business people of the Market decided on the day hours. At that time lots of retail traders and also some wholesalers couldn’t understand this decision as they thought that with the change in hours their businesses wouldn’t work.
So why did you decide on it?
The family element had a lot to do with it! I had no social life and that meant my family had none either! But the worst thing was that I hardly saw my kids. What’s more, I also thought about the fact that, if at some point in the future my children joined the business, they wouldn’t want to work at night.
In a nutshell, what’s it like working at night?
Very complicated. The truth is I was very mentally prepared. I wanted to get on, make the business work and be a success and that made me put up with everything. But in the end it all became too much…
What was the worst?
My life consisted only of working and sleeping. At midday I went to bed, got up at 9 at night, ate, and at midnight I was back at Mercabarna. And the same every day.
You have continued to grow, business-wise, from having one stall in the Market to running a large company. Would that have been possible with a night Market?
Right from the very beginning I had the business project that I wanted to develop very clear in my mind. One example is that the warehouse I have in the Complementary Activity Zone (ZAC) at Mercabarna was inaugurated in 1987, when the Market was still operating at night. But I’m sure that the company expansion would have been more difficult with the night Market. With the arrival of “the day”, of the light, everything changed.
In what way?
It allowed me to involve people that were better trained and prepared in my project. Working at night made it very complicated to find workers with a high level of training, as the working hours weren’t in the least bit attractive. To be able to rely on such a professional team has been crucial for the growth of the company. What’s more, it also made contact with our suppliers easier, both the national ones as well as those from the southern hemisphere. At 3 in the morning you couldn’t phone anywhere!
After all these years, do you think it was a good decision in the end?
I’m convinced that working during the day has given us the possibility to develop our companies better, and also to live better, being with our families more.
Your company is currently undergoing expansion in Madrid, where the Fruit and Vegetable Market takes place at night...
My son is in Madrid taking care of that project. Getting him to take an interest in it has been really complicated, I can tell you. He’s a young lad, with a good academic education, who has now been forced to make a huge effort working at night to make sure the company succeeds.
Looking at our working hours, we are going against the tide with respect to other Markets…
Yes, and to be honest, I don’t understand why other Markets don’t opt for daytime working hours too. The facts are proving that what we’re doing is right. A large number of fruit and vegetable wholesale companies with the greatest turnover are in Barcelona. And the daytime Market has had a lot to do with this!