Arcadia has belonged to the Bastos family since 1933 and, since then, it has been an important reference in the world of chocolate producing. Known for its bonbons, línguas de gato (cat tongues – Portuguese traditional biscuits) and candies, it keeps tradition in its recipes and manufacturing processes.
Located in the heart of the city of Porto, Arcadia is regarded as a factory of artisanal confectionery. Nowadays Arcadia pastry is synonymous with traditional recipes and processes, quality raw materials, customer care and permanent innovation.
We spoke with the Administrator FRANCISCO BASTOS about what has been the evolution of the company and in particular how it has been facing modernity and achieving the connection between tradition and success …
I think Arcadia is an excellent example of how one can combine tradition with modernity. Even having their ups and downs along the way, but the most steep growth was undoubtedly since the turn of the millennium, when the third generation took the reins. In 2000, Arcadia operated only one establishment, in Rua da Almada, having suffered a drop in revenue in previous years, due to the decentralization of the center of Porto – most of the consumption had passed to the shopping centers. The third generation made a strategic commitment to follow these new trends and was to meet consumers.
In 2003 we opened a temporary kiosk in NorteShopping, and in 2005 opened the first store in a shopping center, also in NorteShopping.
Since then, there has been a very strong expansion of the brand nationwide: now has 27 stores, of which 7 are under franchising, from north to south of the country.
The range of products was also developed, presenting novelties every year, not only in chocolate but also in pastry and, more recently, in ice cream. Internally, the company was also following this growth to be able to respond to the challenges of the present time. Nowadays, I think it is safe to say that in some areas, such as Digital Marketing, Arcadia is no longer limited to just keeping up with trends, but rather leading the best practices. The best way to deal with modernity is to align with modernity and to meet what new generations seek, where they seek and how they seek.
This has been the strategic path that Arcadia has followed. This, without ever losing our identity, our history and our tradition.
What is the secret of so much success and longevity?
I think the longevity of our company is due to the ability of the three generations who have led it to this day, to adapt and reinvent themselves according to the environment that surrounds them.
Whether it’s economic, social or financial, Arcadia’s 85 years have gone through very different times – and each generation has been able to adapt the management model that best fit and what consumers have always expected from the company.
From my great-grandfather who with an enormous entrepreneurial spirit founded Arcadia and brought foreign production techniques, such as Bonjour liqueur almonds; to my grandfather who helped establish Arcadia as a reference confectionery in the city of Porto and also knew how to adapt the operations when it was necessary to retract a little; even my father and my aunt who expanded the business to a nationwide operation that now has more than 150 employees.
For how many countries does Arcadia export and which major markets?
At this moment, Arcadia has only one point export, having already made some sales to various countries from Brazil to Angola, passing through several European countries as well as England, for example. However, we are now working to create a more sustainable export, given a recent strategic orientation of the company to begin to focus some attention on external markets. We are very confident that it will be a good bet.
What are the main differences of Arcadia 1933 for today’s business?
It is always a bit difficult to answer this question, but if you had to choose an obvious one, it would be the size of the company. From employees, to the factory, to the number of establishments, and to the range of products we manufacture – all this today has a very different dimension than in the first years of activity. However, I think that in the case of Arcadia the most curious, and worth noting, are the similarities that still exist today comparatively to the beginning. From chocolate refills, pastry recipes, to the Bonjour liquor dragee manufacturing technique – all of this preserves our history and identity. As I mentioned above, the fact that Arcadia has been able to maintain all of this heritage and create a modern and responsive operation around it, really shows the value and strength of the company and of all the people who have collaborated with us along this path.
What “sweet secrets” are in perspective for the future?
We have some ideas and some projects that we will carry out in the short and medium term, in several aspects. At the store level, we plan to open at least another 3 this year, and renew (and also reinvent) our original space at Rua do Almada. As far as our products are concerned, we can potentially launch one more.
With regard to our products, we could potentially launch yet another novelty in the range of chocolates later this year; and we also have some ideas on trial in pastry and ice cream. This year we also have a new project to start in the area of social and corporate responsibility, which is very important for Arcadia, and will be announced soon. Finally, as I have already pointed out, we are also starting a strategic effort to export our products – something that will be done in a timely and properly phased way.