Jose B. Alvarez

Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

José Alvarez was President and Chief Executive Officer of Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover from April 2006 through July 2008. José joined Stop and Shop, a subsidiary of Royal Ahold NV, in 2001. Prior to his tenure as President and CEO, José was Executive Vice President of Supply Chain and Logistics for the company. He also served as the Senior Vice President Logistics and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives.

Mr. Alvarez has almost 20 years experience in the supermarket industry and has held management positions in a variety of functional areas. Before joining Stop & Shop in 2001, Mr. Alvarez worked with Shaw's Supermarkets, where his positions included Vice President of Grocery Merchandising. He also worked at American Stores Company and its subsidiary Jewel Food Stores, where his posts included Director of Market Research, Category Manager - Produce, store management positions and assignments in developing strategic initiatives.

Mr. Alvarez currently serves on the board of directors for United Rentals, the TJX Companies, and Digital Lumens.

Mr. Alvarez holds an AB degree from Princeton University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. José is married with three children.

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Disrupting the Meat Industry: Tissue Culture Beef

    Dr. Mark Post and his team at Maastricht University were perfecting their tissue culture beef product—made entirely from muscle grown in his lab—to give it the same taste, texture and appearance of a traditional beef hamburger. A previous iteration of this product had been taste tested live, with good results, and Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, had provided Post with much of the funding to make the burgers. The next step was to form an independent company around this technology and take it to market. This innovative product could both radically disrupt the existing beef production and supply chain, and provide an animal welfare and environmentally-friendly food that had far less of an environmental impact than traditional beef products.

    Post faced several challenges in making this a commercially viable product though. He had to get price down, as it currently cost roughly $330,000 to make a single burger. He also had to find the right partner(s) to help him bring the product to market, but who should he work with: someone from the established beef production and supply system, a retailer, or someone entirely outside the traditional beef system? How could he expect established companies to react to this disruption of the status quo?

    Messaging around this product was critical: How should Post communicate with the public to convey that this was a natural product—the way muscle tissue grew in his lab was the same way it developed in cattle—and overcome public skepticism of overt scientific involvement in their food?

    Keywords: Agribusiness; innovation; Beef Production; Environmental impacts of food production; Agribusiness; Animal-Based Agribusiness; Disruptive Innovation; Innovation and Invention; Environmental Sustainability; Food; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; Netherlands; United States; United Kingdom;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., and Matthew G. Preble. "Disrupting the Meat Industry: Tissue Culture Beef." Harvard Business School Case 515-001, November 2014. View Details
  2. Ghurka

    Ghurka was a 38-year-old luxury leather goods brand that specialized in leather and twill luggage, handbags, and accessories. Brightwork Brand Holdings Corp. acquired it as an asset purchase in 2011. Ghurka, under CEO John Reuter, worked to re-launch the brand with a ten-year, three-phase growth plan. The company aimed to be profitable by 2016. Management worked to address challenges surrounding the role of wholesaling, Ghurka's advertising strategy, and leather sourcing issues.

    Keywords: luxury; retailing; Luxury;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., Walter J. Salmon, and Christine Snively. "Ghurka." Harvard Business School Case 514-078, March 2014. View Details
  3. Mission Produce

    As the leading distributor of fresh avocados in the U.S., Mission Produce was at a crossroads in late 2013. Avocado consumption was booming and CEO Steve Barnard wanted to acquire additional land in Peru and develop new avocado farms to help fill a projected supply gap. Mission could also buy avocado farms in other countries, expand its international marketing efforts, invest in brand building in Asia, and/or add processed avocado products. This strategy case describes Mission's growth, entrepreneurial leadership, future opportunities, and financing alternatives.

    Keywords: Agribusiness; Fresh produce; food; Peru; Vertical Integration; supply chain; Agriculture; Agribusiness; Food and Beverage Industry; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; United States; Peru;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., and Mary Shelman. "Mission Produce." Harvard Business School Case 514-023, February 2014. View Details
  4. Tesco Group Food

    In 2010, the world's third largest retailer created a new centralized sourcing department for fresh food and store-brand grocery products in response to changes in global supply and to better meet the needs of a new multi-channel retail environment. The case, set in late 2013, covers the development of Tesco Group Food and identifies future opportunities and challenges.

    Keywords: food retailing; multichannel retailing; sustainable supply chains; Agribusiness; food marketing; Supply Chain Management; Marketing; Food and Beverage Industry; Retail Industry; United Kingdom;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., Damien P. McLoughlin, and Mary Shelman. "Tesco Group Food." Harvard Business School Case 514-022, January 2014. View Details
  5. VP Group: Vegpro Grows Beyond Kenya

    In 2013, Kenyan horticulture producer and exporter VP Group is weighing potential expansion opportunities against the growing risks in its production and export markets. With $121 million in 2012 revenues, VP Group has grown rapidly in recent years by expanding its vegetable and flower production beyond Kenya into Ethiopia and Ghana; exploring new products such as sugar; and vertically integrating by bringing marketing and logistics operations in-house. The company's leadership is excited about future growth opportunities but also concerned about the impact of VP Group's growth on its entrepreneurial culture. The company also faces increasing cost pressures due to rising costs in Kenya and flat prices in U.K. supermarkets, its main buyers. VP Group's size, vertical integration, and focus on sustainability leave it well positioned as a long-term partner to U.K. supermarkets, but changes to the overall operating environment might require the company to rethink its strategy.

    Keywords: James Cartwright; Bharat Patel; Umang Patel; Vegpro; VP Group; Kenya; Nairobi; Africa; vegetables; flowers; Marks & Spencer; Sainsbury's; horticulture; sugar; Growth; diversification; freighting; Agribusiness; Plant-Based Agribusiness; Trade; Marketing; Marketing Strategy; Vertical Integration; Supply Chain; Employees; Growth and Development Strategy; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Shipping Industry; Kenya; Nairobi; Africa; United Kingdom; Europe; Ethiopia; Ghana;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose, and Natalie Kindred. "VP Group: Vegpro Grows Beyond Kenya." Harvard Business School Case 514-055, December 2013. View Details
  6. Barbara Krakow Gallery

    The Barbara Krakow Gallery is a successful contemporary art gallery located in Boston. It utilizes a very rare "no haggle pricing" strategy and extended sales cycle when selling pieces to collectors. Though it remains profitable and very respected, the size and scope of the gallery will be brought into question when Barbara Krakow, its founder, retires and hands it over to her associate, Andrew Witkin.

    Keywords: Barbara Krakow Gallery; art gallery; art market; art world; artist; auction house; primary art market; secondary art market; exhibition; contemporary art; art collector; art dealer; art fair; no haggle pricing; extended sales cycle; Christie's; Sotheby's; online art seller; Barbara Krakow; Andrew Witkin; catalogue raisonne; Arts; Small Business; Business Model; Transition; Customer Relationship Management; Fine Arts Industry; Boston;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose, and Nyssa Liebermann. "Barbara Krakow Gallery." Harvard Business School Case 514-033, December 2013. View Details
  7. Lufa Farms

    In 2013, Mohamed Hage, founder of the rooftop farming business called Lufa Farms, thought his company had reached a level of maturity where scaling the business model was the next logical step. With two greenhouses already in Canada, he was looking into other locations in the U.S. Though Lufa Farms' advanced cultivation technologies made the company stand out in its sector, the industry was still young and investors were not fully comfortable putting their resources into rooftop farms. This case explores the intricacies of a rooftop farming business, how it built a successful brand, and presents the challenges that might lie ahead for the company as the founder thinks about expansion.

    Keywords: rooftop farms; Agriculture; greenhouse; technology; Expansion; strategic partnerships; cultivation; Agribusiness; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Canada;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., Robert Mackalski, Annelena Loeb, and Lisa Mazzanti. "Lufa Farms." Harvard Business School Case 514-008, October 2013. View Details
  8. Creating a Luxury Experience at Value Retail

    Value Retail PLC owned and managed a number of premium shopping destinations (Villages) across Europe. Soon the company would be moving into an entirely new market: China. The company's Villages had proven popular with both shoppers (many of whom were international tourists who had come to Europe specifically to visit one of Value Retail's Villages) and brands, a number of which were luxury brands that had historically avoided selling product at outlet locations. The company's Founder and Chairman, Scott Malkin, looked to the future challenges his company might face in China, as well as to the challenges his company faced around human resource management and organizational control as the company grew in size and formalized parts of its processes, and how his company would be impacted by the ongoing changes in the retail industry, including the rise of online shopping.

    Keywords: retailing; tourism; luxury; brand building; brand positioning; brands and branding; real estate; Brands and Branding; Human Resources; Retail Industry; Tourism Industry; Real Estate Industry; Europe; China;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., and Matthew Preble. "Creating a Luxury Experience at Value Retail." Harvard Business School Case 513-009, January 2013. (Revised March 2013.) View Details
  9. Mutti S.p.a.

    Francesco Mutti, owner, CEO, and great-grandson of the founder of Mutti Spa, ran the 113-year old Parma, Italy-based tomato-processing company. Mutti sales grew from €11 million in 1995 to €185 million in 2011, without producing for store brands in a market in which these offerings were steadily gaining share. The company's leaders wanted to make sure Mutti maintained its position in Italy and further, to move into a leadership position in several countries around the world. What was next for the family firm and brand leader from northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region? How would the singularly focused, consensus-driven firm fare in an increasingly competitive, globalizing retail landscape?

    Keywords: Agribusiness; strategy; Plant-Based Agribusiness; Family Business; Competitive Strategy; Global Strategy; Retail Industry; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Italy;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., Carin-Isabel Knoop, and Mary Shelman. "Mutti S.p.a." Harvard Business School Case 513-034, January 2013. (Revised April 2013.) View Details
  10. H-E-B: Creating a Movement to Reduce Obesity in Texas

    In January 2012, H-E-B Grocery Co., a private retail chain with stores located in Texas and Mexico, was introducing its Healthy at H-E-B program to its customers. The program, which started with the company's employees a few years earlier, was an effort to educate and inform customers on how to lead a healthier lifestyle. What CEO Craig Boyan had in mind was creating a state-wide healthy living movement in Texas, where obesity was high relative to other states in the U.S. But how far to go with its employees and customers was a question that President and COO Craig Boyan and his team struggled with. On one hand Boyan believed that H-E-B, long recognized for its community involvement, had a role to play in Texans' health and well-being. On the other hand, he recognized that H-E-B was first and foremost a retailer that had to compete against the likes of Walmart. He needed to make sure that H-E-B was serving its customers what they wanted while also trying to influence their buying behavior toward healthier foods. Some would say that H-E-B had no role in changing the lifestyle and food choices of its employees or customers. But Boyan and his team thought differently.

    Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Profit; Leading Change; Customer Focus and Relationships; Food and Beverage Industry; Retail Industry; Texas;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., Jason Riis, and Walter J. Salmon. "H-E-B: Creating a Movement to Reduce Obesity in Texas." Harvard Business School Case 512-034, April 2012. (Revised February 2013.) View Details
  11. Zespri

    Grower-owned Zespri is the sole exporter of New Zealand-grown kiwifruit outside of Australia and New Zealand. Facing growing international competition, Zespri invested in consumer branding and innovation, which has led to new types of kiwifruit that taste better and are protected with patents. Consumer response has been positive and Zespri has begun to grow kiwifruit outside of New Zealand in order to have the product on retail shelves year round. Is this the right strategy for the future?

    Keywords: Plant-Based Agribusiness; Globalized Firms and Management; Innovation and Invention; Patents; Brands and Branding; Cooperative Ownership; Competition; Corporate Strategy; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; New Zealand;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., and Mary Louise Shelman. "Zespri." Harvard Business School Case 511-001, December 2010. (Revised January 2012.) View Details
  12. FreshTec: Revolutionizing Fresh Produce

    Entrepreneurial produce packaging firm, which has developed a disruptive technology that keeps fresh produce and flowers fresh for significantly longer, faces strategic growth decisions. CEO Bob Wright must decide how best to bring his company's unique packaging product to market. The technology holds promise after a long development phase but the packaging is more expensive and Wright and his team must convince the industry stakeholders of the packaging's value.

    Keywords: Decision Making; Disruptive Innovation; Leadership; Growth and Development Strategy; Product Launch; Supply Chain; Value Creation; Service Industry;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., and Ryan Johnson. "FreshTec: Revolutionizing Fresh Produce." Harvard Business School Case 511-059, November 2010. (Revised July 2011.) View Details
  13. Paydiant

    Kevin Laracey, founder of Paydiant, needed to figure out how to launch a payment processing company with a new technology based on smart phones. Consumers had increasingly turned to electronic payment methods such as credit cards and debit cards to make purchases. Retailers, however, felt that major credit and debit card issuers had too much market power which was leading to higher costs for retailers to accept such payment forms. Consumers were increasingly adopting smart phones and using those phones to manage their lives. Market watchers believed that consumers would soon demand to use their smart phones to make purchases. Retailers liked this because it increased competition in the payments industry. Paydiant had developed a software-based product that required no new hardware for retailers and enabled consumers to use their smart phones to make purchases. The company needed to decide how to bring this new product to market. The case also describes the existing payment processing market structure, identifies some of its major players, and introduces some other new entrants into the payment industry.

    Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Credit Cards; Product Marketing; Product Launch; Market Entry and Exit; Industry Structures; Business and Stakeholder Relations; Cooperation; Technology Adoption; Retail Industry;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., Elizabeth C. Williamson, and James Weber. "Paydiant." Harvard Business School Case 511-065, January 2011. (Revised May 2011.) View Details
  14. Customer Loyalty Schemes in the Retail Sector

    Customer loyalty schemes (or programs) are explicit efforts by retailers to gain long-term patronage from customers. Loyalty schemes are developed for a variety of reasons: to reward loyal customers, to generate more robust information about customer behavior, to influence consumer behavior, and as a defensive measure to combat a competing scheme. The purpose of this note is to describe the objectives of these schemes, including their origin and evolution; to highlight key aspects of their implementation; and to suggest approaches to maximize their impact. While this note focuses on the U.S. and U.K. retail sectors, most of its content is applicable to other economies.

    Keywords: Customer Relationship Management; Consumer Behavior; Business Strategy; Retail Industry; United Kingdom; United States;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., and Aldo Sesia. "Customer Loyalty Schemes in the Retail Sector." Harvard Business School Background Note 511-077, March 2011. View Details
  15. Note on Store Location

    Reviews some basic issues to be considered in selecting a new location for a retail store.

    Keywords: Business Divisions; Geographic Location; Expansion; Retail Industry;

    Citation:

    Bell, David E., and Jose B. Alvarez. "Note on Store Location." Harvard Business School Background Note 593-112, April 1993. (Revised January 2011.) View Details
  16. Red Tomato: Keeping It Local

    This case describes the operating model and history of Red Tomato, a non-profit organization dedicated to branding and logistical support for locally grown produce farmers in the northeast U.S. The case highlights the challenges involved in making locally grown produce available to large consumer markets.

    Keywords: Agribusiness; Trends; Food; Local Range; Consumer Behavior; Logistics; Supply Chain; Nonprofit Organizations; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Northeastern United States;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., Mary Louise Shelman, and Laura Winig. "Red Tomato: Keeping It Local." Harvard Business School Case 510-023, November 2009. (Revised May 2010.) View Details