who would tell Carlo Lapetra When you ran an automotive parts factory in 2003, who knew more about pastry cream and toppings than about cars? This engineer has very clear visions for Sietem, a confectionery specialist SME that started baking in a humble workshop on Calle Santa Paula in Seville: “We want to be the world leader in the production of mid-range frozen confectionery – high” .

A decade ago, such a statement might have been reminiscent of the story of the milkmaid. Today, however, it’s on the way to becoming a reality: they sell up to 4,000 cakes a day, they make around 1,400 different products, they closed 2015 with a turnover of 540,000 euros, they only have big companies in their customer portfolio – NH Hoteles, Meliá Internationals Hotels, El Corte Inglés, Cotsco and others – and have an expansion plan that includes listing on the MAB and reaching €5 million in sales in 2020.

“Our approach envisages a five-year project with an average sustainable growth of 60% per year,” explains the calculator of this tandem, in which the other half is stuck Alice houses. She and Lapetra are an entrepreneurial and very compatible couple who decided in 2004 to give their daughter María a little brother: a small candy factory. Both were active: Carlos as a manager in a multinational company and Alicia combining a part-time job in a pharmacy with a teaching position. “We come from an entrepreneurial family. We wanted to trade, so we started thinking about which sector to invest in. The diet geared towards the tourism sector seemed to us an excellent way out, considering the importance of this sector in the Spanish economy”.

From the beginning everything was more than expected and this is how they remember their beginnings in a workshop of only 50 square meters in the San Julián district of Seville. Five years passed before moving to a larger industrial hall in Camas and soon they will move back to the capital’s free trade zone.

This other subsidiary does not stop growing, as a food innovation in an activity as traditional as confectionery, has production methods typical of advanced technology, works without stocks and with a strategy planned to the millimeter.

The secret lies in…

There is no magic formula: the key to Sietem is the excellent quality of its products. They have chosen to position themselves between the cheap industrial cakes and cakes whose taste leaves something to be desired, and those from bakeries and confectionaries, more careful but too expensive. “For supermarkets, we have developed a range of homemade cakes, prepared in our facilities like everyone at home, with a traditional recipe: egg, sugar, flour, yeast, oil… No industrial creams or additives,” says Casas. This is achieved by relying on developing the recipe in-house for the more than 1,100 semi-finished products that are added to the recipe book.

These sweet creations are marketed in large stores such as Hipercor, Condis, Eroski, Mas and the American giant Cotsco, which can serve as stepping stones to reach one of the markets that they will bet on in a first phase of internationalization in which they are immersed . The most promising of its products, the fondant cake – under the Suggart brand – stems from a desire for exports, “without competition in Spain or abroad”. “Those currently sold are expensive, difficult to obtain and perishable. We put a lot of effort in research and development to create a cake that catches the eye with its exceptional finish and with a unique taste.” They emphasize that they have applied for the patent and the industrial design – the engineer has taken care of that design of the equipment for its manufacture – and enjoys great prestige among professionals – bloggers, media, chefs, etc.

A third line is individual desserts, which are in great demand in the hotel industry. And the last? The “chilled”, the dream of many ice cream lovers, as it is prepared in such a way that it does not thaw at room temperature.

Confectionery technology and Zero ‘warehouse’

Sietem has opened up a market niche with automotive manufacturing processes. Carlos Lapetra’s training as an industrial engineer combined with his experience in the motor world gave them wings to bet on just-in-time manufacturing only on demand, for orders received and “with practically non-existent stocks”. The processes are linked without intermediate storage, so the lead time is very short,” says Lapetra.

In this way, they work practically in real time — “when you order a piece of fondant over the internet, they make it especially for you” — which, says Alicia, wouldn’t be feasible if the work weren’t so highly automated. , the methodology and with a very demanding and effective employee training. “All of our employees are able to do anything,” he continues, so the pieces move and fit together like a puzzle so orders are prepared and delivered on time.