La Veracruzana is a Mexican grocery store chain that specializes in authentic Mexican food products. The company was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Los Angeles, California. La Veracruzana has grown to become one of the largest Hispanic grocery chains in the United States with over 100 locations in California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Florida. But who exactly owns and operates this successful grocery chain? That’s what we’ll explore in this article.
History of La Veracruzana
La Veracruzana was founded in 1987 by Mexican immigrant Ignacio Gómez. Gómez immigrated to the United States in the early 1980s from Veracruz, Mexico. After settling in Los Angeles, he noticed a lack of authentic Mexican ingredients and foods from his homeland. This gave Gómez the idea to start a grocery store that would import and sell authentic Mexican products.
The first La Veracruzana store opened in East Los Angeles in a small 800 square foot space. It focused on importing key Mexican ingredients like corn tortillas, chilies, beans, Mexican cheeses, and jarritos. The store was an immediate hit with local immigrant families who were overjoyed to find the familiar ingredients of home.
Encouraged by the success of the first store, Gómez began expanding La Veracruzana. He opened new locations across Southern California to serve the region’s large Mexican population. The stores began carrying not just ingredients but also freshly made Mexican prepared foods like tamales, tortas, and tacos.
By the 1990s, La Veracruzana had over 10 locations in Los Angeles. The company also expanded into other states like Texas, Arizona, and Florida. It widened its product selection to include Mexican beers, teas, spices, cooking equipment, and pinatas. Today it operates over 100 stores and remains family-owned and run.
La Veracruzana remains a private family-owned company to this day. Founder Ignacio Gómez died in the early 2000s, leaving the business to his son, Rodrigo Gómez. Rodrigo had been involved with the company from a young age, learning the grocery business from the ground up.
Rodrigo’s official title is CEO of La Veracruzana. But as a hands-on owner, he remains involved in many aspects of the operations. This includes selecting new store locations, choosing product mix, maintaining supplier relationships in Mexico, and overseeing the prepared food programs.
While Rodrigo runs the company, La Veracruzana remains very much a family affair. Rodrigo’s three children all work for the business in different capacities. His daughter Alejandra is the Vice President and oversees the marketing and e-commerce initiatives. His oldest son Jorge is the COO, responsible for new store openings and store operations. Youngest son Diego manages the company’s food production commissaries.
Beyond the immediate Gómez family, La Veracruzana employs many cousins, uncles, nephews and extended relations. The company culture is built on family with many employees staying for decades. As a private company, exact details on ownership percentages are not disclosed. But it is understood that majority control lies with the Gómez family.
La Veracruzana has grown successfully by sticking to its core mission of providing quality authentic Mexican foods. The company carries over 5,000 products in its stores with a focus on ingredients and prepared items popular in Mexico. Some key product categories include:
Stores stock a wide array of fruits and vegetables commonly used in Mexican cooking. This includes chilies, tomatillos, cilantro, squash, avocados and more. Many items are imported directly from Mexico to ensure authenticity.
Popular Mexican meat selections like chorizo, head cheese, lengua (beef tongue), and carne asada (marinated steak). La Veracruzana has its own butchers in stores for specialty cuts.
All the varieties used in Mexican cuisine including pinto, black, peruano, and flor de mayo beans. Sold in bulk bags or pre-cooked tins.
With a focus on authentic quesos like Oaxaca, cotija, queso fresco and manchego. Sourced from Mexican producers.
In-store bakeries make fresh conchas, teleras, pamonles, and bolillos daily. Area for custom cakes.
Mexican soda company Jarritos is a top seller. Flavors like tamarind, lime, fruit punch, mandarin are imported from Mexico.
Dried chilies essential for moles, salsas and rubs. Ancho, guajillo, chipotle, pasilla, pequin and more. Also sell chili powered mixtures.
Fresh and dried corn masa for making tortillas and tamales. Plus tools like tortilla presses.
Essential Mexican spices like oregano, cinnamon, cumin and epazote. Also flavorings like hibiscus flowers and chamoy.
Salsas & Hot Sauces
Prepared table salsas, taco salsas, chilies, pickles and hot sauces. National brands and in-house creations.
Mexican snacks like chicharrones, pepitos, obleas. Brands include Sabritas, Barcel and Takis.
Mexican candy selection including mazapan, palanquetas, rice pudding and more. Plus popular brands like Pulparindo.
Handmade Mexican piñatas for all occasions. Created on-site at most stores.
In-store kitchens making tacos, tamales, tortas, ceviches, menudo and other hot prepared foods. Breakfast tacos in the mornings.
This broad product selection provides a one-stop experience for all Mexican grocery needs. The stores also reflect Mexican culture with items like loteria cards, religious candles, music CDs and décor. This immersive shopping experience is a key part of La Veracruzana’s appeal.
The company also strives to serve its communities beyond just shopping. La Veracruzana hosts special events around holidays like Dia de Los Muertos, Cinco de Mayo, and posadas. Stores support local vendors and artisans by carrying their products. The company actively gives back to community organizations and youth programs.
La Veracruzana also employs a largely Hispanic workforce. Store employees are knowledgeable and attentive. They take pride in sharing food recommendations and preparation tips. Customers appreciate this friendly neighborhood feel that makes them feel at home.
The company’s business model has led to consistent sales growth as the Hispanic population expands. Stores see over 9 million transactions per year across all locations.
Given its success, La Veracruzana plans to continue expanding in the coming years. There is capacity to operate 150 total stores, up from just over 100 today. Areas being targeted for new stores include:
- California – New locations in inland cities like Bakersfield, Fresno and Stockton with large Hispanic populations.
- Texas – Expanding in Houston and branching into Midland, Laredo, Corpus Christi and other cities along the border.
- Arizona – Spreading to Tucson and Mesa markets.
- Nevada – Reaching more of the Hispanic community in Las Vegas.
- Florida – Moving into additional Miami suburbs and around Tampa.
- Georgia – First stores to provide Mexican ingredients and foods to underserved communities in Atlanta.
La Veracruzana is also growing its e-commerce business. A redesigned website makes it easier for customers to shop online and take advantage of deliveries. The company is partnering with delivery providers like Instacart to improve convenience.
With its continued focus on authenticity and community connection, La Veracruzana aims to be the leading Hispanic grocery chain nationwide. The committed family ownership and leadership provides the direction and agility to make this vision a reality. For three generations, the business has remained dedicated to its mission of bringing a touch of genuine Mexico to customers. That foundation positions the brand well for future success.
As a private family-owned company, La Veracruzana does not disclose detailed financial results publicly. However, some estimates are available based on industry research:
- Annual Revenue – Approximately $650 million per year
- Average Store Size – 5,000 square feet
- Average Employees per Store – 25
- Average Customers per Week per Store – 2,500
- Average Transactions per Store per Day – 400
- Average Transaction Value – $25
With these metrics, La Veracruzana stores generate approximately $10 million in gross sales yearly on average. That equates to over $1 billion in total sales across the chain. After labor, overhead, and other costs, the company likely produces around $70-100 million in operating profit.
As a private company, La Veracruzana has greater freedom in investing profits back into growth. The company funds new store openings using operating income rather than relying on loans or investors. This allows for steady expansion while maintaining family control.
Profits are reinvested to improve operations – renovating older stores, upgrading technology systems, enhancing supply chain. The company maintains a strong balance sheet without excessive debt.
La Veracruzana’s financial track record has allowed it to expand successfully for over 30 years. Its privately-held status means the company can focus on long-term strategic goals rather than short-term results. With continued demand for authentic Mexican food, La Veracruzana appears well positioned for many more years of growth.
Advantages of Private Ownership
La Veracruzana has benefited from remaining a private family-owned business in several key ways:
The Gómez family has nurtured a unique culture focused on community, authenticity and customer service. Employees feel like part of an extended family with low turnover. This culture likely could not be easily maintained under outside ownership or public markets.
Since they are not beholden to public shareholders, the owners can take a patient long-term view. The company invests in markets and products based on quality and heritage rather than quick returns.
There is no bureaucracy or board approvals needed. Management can respond faster to implement new initiatives in merchandising, marketing, expansion. This flexibility has allowed La Veracruzana to evolve.
Remaining family-owned has allowed La Veracruzana to stay true to its mission and values around community. The company supports local vendors and programs as part of giving back.
No outside influence forces the brand to stray from its vision or make decisions that undermine its reputation. The family maintains complete authority over strategy and operations.
Rather than appeasing Wall Street targets, all profits can be re-invested into measured growth and improvements. The company expands at a prudent pace based on operating income.
La Veracruzana’s private status has been integral to growing a trusted brand beloved by loyal customers. While an acquisition or IPO could provide a big payday, it would likely erode what makes the company special. The family has shown no signs it would consider selling control.
La Veracruzana appears positioned for continued success based on several positive factors:
- Growing Hispanic population nationwide – More demand for authentic Mexican foods.
- Regional expansion opportunities – Roughly 50 viable new store markets.
- Second generation leadership – Founder’s children maintain family legacy.
- Strong financial standing – Company has low debt and robust cash flow.
- Loyal customers – Their community connection fosters retention.
- Omnichannel evolution – Investments in online ordering and delivery improve accessibility.
There are also some potential challenges on the horizon:
- Competition – Chains like Northgate Gonzalez and Mi Pueblo aiming for similar shoppers.
- Rising labor costs – Pressures bottom line as wages and benefits increase.
- Supply chain woes – Getting enough product could require expanding Mexican supplier base.
However, the opportunities appear to outweigh risks given La Veracruzana’s strong platform and market position. Its family leadership team is ready to usher in a new era of expansion grounded in the brand’s heritage. With measured growth and staying true to its roots, La Veracruzana can reach even more Hispanic communities nationwide.
La Veracruzana has grown from a single small store in East Los Angeles to become one of the leading Hispanic grocery chains. The company remains dedicated to its mission of providing authentic Mexican foods and a welcoming shopping experience. This community-focused culture has fostered decades of loyalty from multiple generations.
Crucial to the brand’s success has been remaining a private family-owned business under the leadership of founder Ignacio Gómez’s descendants. They have nurtured the company without having to sacrifice values for outside shareholders. La Veracruzana has benefited from patience, agility and strategic control that being privately held allows.
The company is now poised for a new phase of expansion anchored by a strong financial track record. With the second generation in command, La Veracruzana continues its heritage of sharing cherished Mexican products with an ever-growing market. Authenticity, quality and service will ensure the grocery chain’s family traditions flourish for years to come.