While unemployment rate in Spain remains above 20%, Mondragon Corporation created 1,000 new jobs in 2014 and is currently employing 74,117 workers, 0.1% more than in the previous year.
In 2013, Fagor Electrodomésticos, Mondragon’s domestic and commercial appliance manufacturer, went bust. Around 2,000 workers were affected – but to date 1,700 of these were relocated in other co-ops or have chosen to retire.
Set up in 1956, Mondragon has become the world’s largest worker co-operative, with a presence in 97 countries. The federation comprises over 250 co-operatives and subsidiaries across four areas of activity: industry, retail, finance and knowledge.
In 2014 foreign sales accounted for 71% of the corporation’s total sales. Industrial co-ops under its umbrella have set up premises in China, India, USA, Mexico and Brazil and now have 125 production subsidiaries abroad. Domestic market sales have also started to increase for the first time in recent years, rising 1.7% from the previous year to €1.4bn.
Mondragon is participating in over 30 European research and development co-operation projects, and is working with the Spanish Technological Platform for Advanced Manufacturing. It is integrating next-generation technology, including biotechnology, photonics, microelectronics and nanotechnology, into its manufacturing.
Mondragon is keeping a strong presence in the Spanish retail sector, providing 38,686 jobs across its 2,000 Eroski outlets. This distribution group is the largest Spanish-owned retail food chain and the fourth-largest retail group. Last year, the sector’s sales fell 1.9% to €6.2bn and reported loses of €280m.
The co-op has invested €80m into an automated logistics platform for Eroski.
In terms of innovation, the retail group was honoured in the Basque Retail Award, in recognition of its Contigo (‘Eroski with you’) store model, which offers more personalised customer service, as well as fresh and health food and innovative saving schemes.
Mondragon’s financial co-operatives witnessed a 26.4% increase in profits in 2014, totalling €109.2m. Their growth rate was also higher than average for the insurance sector, with €175m in premiums.
Javier Sotil, chair of Mondragon’s general council, said he believed the corporation would be able to maintain job creation. “We can rely on management and innovation capabilities to promote competitive business, joint commitment and inter-cooperative solidarity,” he said.