Barcelona Sells: BCN Brand’s Rapid Ascent


When Pablo Caralps, the brains behind BCN Brand, called his wife in 2012 to ask her to find suppliers to manufacture colored sneakers little did he know that in just three short years he would be traveling around the world marketing his brand with a surprising portfolio of products. After the color sneakers came polo shirts, bathing suits, casual clothes, leather goods, cases, sunglasses, motorcycle helmets, bicycles, sports shoes for the bride and even fire extinguishers. All products evoke an urban and summery Barcelona lifestyle.

The company’s only bricks-and-mortar shop, located in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, has an distinctly summery feel, and the city is everywhere: on the mobile cases, in the designs on the T-shirts and even on the fire extinguishers. How can you define BCN Brand products? How do you go from sneakers to a fire extinguisher? Is the company looking to create the perfect souvenir? An object that will be coveted by urban art lovers?

In any case, Pablo Caralps’ strategy has worked for now. His company’s growth has skyrocketed. In 2015, 70 percent of the company’s one-million-euro turnover came from foreign markets. And the company expects to see its revenue double in 2016. All of this with 13 employees, five from the same family. There’s no doubt that its path seems to be out of the ordinary, as does its distribution, products, marketing and human resources.

The case “BCN Brand: Selling Barcelona Around the World,” by Sara Sicart, working with professor Xavier Oliver, covers the history of this Barcelona-based company following the explanations its creator gave a marketing director. From 2012, when he came up with the idea, through November 2015, when the company first considered creating a more formal structure with solid foundations to withstand the battering growth awaiting them.

First of all, the case goes over the context in which the company was created, its competition and its price segment. Secondly, it explains details and anecdotes regarding its wide-ranging portfolio of products and describes its target, the client that has inspired such a peculiar portfolio of products. Then, it deals with the company’s growth and distribution strategy, with specific details on the steps it has taken. And, to finish up, it gives an overview of its marketing and branding policy, which is very important to this company.

BCN Brand is a unique, fresh company that has burst on the scene. When the company goes to a fair or a television program and shows its products, it attracts a lot of attention. Nevertheless, it makes you think. So far, Pablo Caralps has used his instinct to guide the company, but things are getting serious and no market analyses, marketing plans or brand audits have been done. It’s all based on trial and error.

The point that BCN Brand had reached by November 2015 called for reflection. Which is better: to continue focusing on the foreign market, carefully choosing each distribution point, or start to exploit the Spanish market? Is the company’s method for choosing the products that make up its portfolio correct? Is it time to consolidate? Is its distribution strategy coherent? Are its marketing initiatives effective? What role does the international image of the city play in BCN Brand? Could BCN Brand deliver the next “I Love NY”-scale success?

IESE Insight

IESE Insight is produced by the IESE Business School, a top-ranked business school that is committed to the development of leaders who aspire to have a positive, deep and lasting impact on people, firms and society through their professionalism, integrity and spirit of service.

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