Jose B. Alvarez - Faculty & Research - Harvard Business School
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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, Princeton University, The Joyce Foundation, and The Daily Table.

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

Books
  1. Retail Revolution: Will Your Brick & Mortar Store Survive?

    Rajiv Lal, Jose B. Alvarez and Dan Greenberg

    In Retail Revolution, the authors go beyond the common belief of retail as a monolithic industry and provide a framework that any brick-and-mortar retailer can use to respond to the eCommerce threat. Through six examples, this book demonstrates how this framework works in practice.

    Keywords: Business Ventures; Online Technology; Marketing Strategy; Distribution Channels; Retail Industry;

    Citation:

    Lal, Rajiv, Jose B. Alvarez, and Dan Greenberg. Retail Revolution: Will Your Brick & Mortar Store Survive? Self-published, 2014.  View Details
Cases and Teaching Materials
  1. Dick's Sporting Goods

    Rajiv Lal, Jose B. Alvarez and Matthew G. Preble

    Edward Stack, chairman and CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS), faced a rapidly changing sporting goods landscape in October 2016. Two large competitors—The Sports Authority and Sport Chalet—had folded earlier that year, and DKS had to contend with increasingly robust e-commerce competitors and with its own suppliers, who were selling a greater share of their products direct to consumers. DKS’s leaders planned to grow the company’s physical footprint, were experimenting with new retail concepts, and had developed an omni-channel strategy to help blend the company’s online and physical presences to better serve customers.
    Had DKS’s leaders adequately positioned the company in this changing sporting goods landscape to ensure its long-term viability?

    Keywords: sporting goods; retail; e-commerce; Employees; Growth and Development Strategy; Growth Management; Product Marketing; Demand and Consumers; Consumer Behavior; Product; Service Delivery; Service Operations; Partners and Partnerships; Business Strategy; Competition; Corporate Strategy; Expansion; Internet; Retail Industry; United States; Pennsylvania;

    Citation:

    Lal, Rajiv, Jose B. Alvarez, and Matthew G. Preble. "Dick's Sporting Goods." Harvard Business School Case 517-007, February 2017.  View Details
  2. HEINEKEN—Brewing a Better World (B)

    Forest L. Reinhardt, José Alvarez and Tonia Junker

    This is a follow-up to the “HEINEKEN—Brewing a Better World (A)” case, with updated information on sustainability at HEINEKEN and some new initiatives.

    Keywords: Brands and Branding; Corporate Strategy; Supply Chain Management; Food and Beverage Industry;

    Citation:

    Reinhardt, Forest L., José Alvarez, and Tonia Junker. "HEINEKEN—Brewing a Better World (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 717-001, August 2016.  View Details
  3. The Hain Celestial Group

    David E. Bell, José B. Alvarez, James Weber and Mary Shelman

    Hain Celestial manufactured natural and organic food and personal care products to be sold to retailers of these products. The company had grown successfully and profitably through acquisitions and organically for two decades. In late 2015, Hain faced challenges on several fronts. First, new consumers were interested in these products, and these consumers had characteristics different from those of historical consumers in the segment. Second, the natural and organic market segment had been growing faster than the conventional market overall and was expected to continue. This had caused large conventional manufacturers to enter this space, increasing the level of competition for Hain. Third, this segment growth was also attracting a wider range of retailers wanting to sell these products, and some of these retailers were introducing their own natural and organic brands.

    Keywords: Agribusiness; Strategy; Marketing; Consumer Products Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Bell, David E., José B. Alvarez, James Weber, and Mary Shelman. "The Hain Celestial Group." Harvard Business School Case 516-007, December 2015.  View Details
  4. J.C. Penney's 'Fair and Square' Strategy (Abridged), (B), and (C)

    Elie Ofek, Jose B. Alvarez and Michael Norris

    This teaching note is for "J.C. Penney's 'Fair and Square' Strategy (Abridged), (B), and (C)," which tells the story of Ron Johnson's tenure as CEO of the U.S. department store J.C. Penney, his 2013 firing, and the rehiring of former CEO Myron E. "Mike" Ullman to try to fix Johnson's mistakes.

    Keywords: retail; marketing; leadership; strategy; Pricing strategy; Leadership; Marketing; Strategy; Retail Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Ofek, Elie, Jose B. Alvarez, and Michael Norris. "J.C. Penney's 'Fair and Square' Strategy (Abridged), (B), and (C)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 516-008, September 2015.  View Details
  5. Index

    Jose Alvarez and Julia Kelley

    In December 2017, Marc Freed-Finnegan and Jonathan Wall, the co-founders of retail technology company Index, had to discuss the company’s direction as they entered 2018. Five years earlier, Freed-Finnegan and Wall had founded Index after observing the technological advantages that Amazon and other online retailers had over brick-and-mortar retailers. Index’s first product was a customer database tool that allowed brick-and-mortar retailers to collect customer contact information (e.g., email addresses) at the time of checkout. Index soon added automated marketing tools and payment/security tools (e.g., encryption) to its product portfolio. However, selling to large retail chains had proved challenging—many stakeholders were involved in the buying decision, creating a long sales process, and some retailers did not understand why they should trust a small, young company with their payment security. By late 2017, Index had made some changes to reduce the average sales cycle, but there was still room for improvement. Now, Index was preparing to launch a new product, Index Connect, that would essentially allow retailers to pool customer contact data and be more competitive with Amazon. Participants must evaluate whether Index was taking the right approach to sales and marketing and consider how the company could position Index Connect to be a success.

    Keywords: Product Launch; Product Positioning; Sales; Strategy; Marketing Strategy; Retail Industry; Technology Industry;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose, and Julia Kelley. "Index." Harvard Business School Case 518-038, January 2018.  View Details
  6. Amazon Buys Whole Foods

    Jose B. Alvarez, David Lane and Joni Coughlin

    The June 2017 news that e-commerce giant Amazon was paying $13.7 billion for organic supermarket chain Whole Foods precipitated a broad sell-off in the shares of grocery retailers and suppliers. Behind the precipitous declines lay recognition that Amazon’s bold move into brick and mortar assets offered transformational opportunities. Amazon could gain expertise in perishable product sales and procurement, plus access to 30 million well-off shoppers and 463 grocery stores in key U.S. markets. Whole Foods could absorb Amazon’s technology and process expertise to modernize and reduce its operating costs, which were among the highest in the industry. For grocery retailers and suppliers, the deal portended increased competitive pressures in a saturated market. As 2018 dawned, all parties were assessing the deal’s implications. Had the stock market overreacted to news of the deal? Why was Amazon buying Whole Foods? What were the long-term implications of the deal for the food value chain?

    Keywords: Amazon; Whole Foods; grocery; grocery delivery; Mergers & Acquisitions; e-commerce; business models; Agribusiness; food value chain; Agribusiness; Mergers and Acquisitions; Operations; Competitive Strategy; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Retail Industry; Web Services Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., David Lane, and Joni Coughlin. "Amazon Buys Whole Foods." Harvard Business School Case 518-056, December 2017.  View Details
  7. Area One Farms

    Forest Reinhardt, Jose B. Alvarez and Annelena Lobb

    In 2017, Joelle Faulkner, CEO of Area One Farms, a Canadian private-equity fund focused on investing in the best Canadian farms and helping them expand, considered the merits and disadvantages of expanding her business to the U.S. While the markets shared some similarities, Faulkner did not know the U.S. market as well as the Canadian one. Could her joint venture partnership model work as well in the U.S. as it had in her home country?

    Keywords: Expansion; Decision Choices and Conditions; Private Equity; Canada; United States;

    Citation:

    Reinhardt, Forest, Jose B. Alvarez, and Annelena Lobb. "Area One Farms." Harvard Business School Case 518-069, December 2017. (Revised April 2018.)  View Details
  8. Molino Cañuelas: Serving Customers from Seed Development to the Kitchen Table

    Jose B. Alvarez, Maria Fernanda Miguel and Mariana Cal

    Molino Cañuelas was a vertically integrated food company with a management system that allowed it to innovate and grow systematically. With sales of $2 billion in 2016, the firm not only produced flour, vegetable oil, and packaged food products, it also owned a port terminal, a packaging plant, and an Agribusiness Services Division to support over 8,000 agricultural producers.
    CEO and Chairman Aldo Navilli, who had run the company since 1986 and had developed its management system, wanted to ensure that as the company grew and expanded, it would maintain its culture and working style.
    The company was exporting to 32 countries and had manufacturing plants in Brazil and Uruguay. As it continued its international expansion, should it follow the same vertical integration strategy in other countries, or should it develop its retail business through partnerships or alliances?

    Keywords: Vertical Integration; Quality Management System; Agribusiness; food industry; Molino Cañuelas; Argentina; Vertical Integration; Quality; Management Systems; Expansion; Global Range; Growth and Development Strategy; Agribusiness; Food and Beverage Industry; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Argentina;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., Maria Fernanda Miguel, and Mariana Cal. "Molino Cañuelas: Serving Customers from Seed Development to the Kitchen Table." Harvard Business School Case 518-046, December 2017.  View Details
  9. International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

    Jose B. Alvarez and Sarah Mehta

    It is July 2017, and Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, the director general of the Nigeria-based International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), is making progress toward two of his primary strategic objectives for the nonprofit research Institute: 1) to scale the impact and reach of some of the IITA’s most commercially viable products and technologies by working with the private sector, and 2) to address Nigeria’s massive youth unemployment problem by engaging young people in agribusiness.

    To achieve his first goal, Sanginga in 2013 established a business incubation platform (BIP), which was tasked with establishing pilot production facilities to illustrate that a select number of IITA products could be profitably manufactured and sold to an existing market. Sanginga hoped that the BIP would attract interest from private sector companies compelled by the business case for taking a particular technology to scale. To achieve his second goal, Sanginga had founded a youth “agripreneurs” program, which would train young university graduates on improved agricultural practices, food processing, and strategies for starting an agribusiness. Since its establishment in 2012, the program had enrolled four cohorts of young people in Ibadan (a total of 70 people), and expanded to four other states in Nigeria and five additional African countries.

    While both programs were making progress, challenges remained. Sanginga had originally hoped that the agripreneurs program would launch dozens of small businesses, but as of mid-2017, it had produced just four independent start-ups. Most of the program’s agripreneurs in Ibadan (53 of the 70) remained affiliated with the IITA. Poor access to commercial loans, which carried interest rates up to 30%, was the primary issue preventing them from starting businesses. The BIP, too, faced challenges. Chief among them was a severe cash flow constraint that prevented Schreurs from properly forecasting and investing resources to maximize the BIP’s impact. As traffic inched along, Sanginga contemplated how he could steer both the BIP and the agripreneurs program toward long-term success in his remaining four years at the IITA’s helm.

    Keywords: Scaling Technologies; Youth Unemployment; Innovation in Nonprofits; Agribusiness; Plant-Based Agribusiness; Cash Flow; Labor; Employment; Commercialization; Problems and Challenges; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Africa; Nigeria;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., and Sarah Mehta. "International Institute of Tropical Agriculture." Harvard Business School Case 518-034, December 2017.  View Details
  10. NatureSweet

    Jose Alvarez, Forest Reinhardt and Natalie Kindred

    This case describes the business model and workplace philosophy of NatureSweet, a privately owned, vertically integrated greenhouse grower and marketer of fresh tomatoes with sales across the United States and $329 million in 2016 revenues. CEO Bryant Ambelang treated NatureSweet more like a consumer-packaged goods manufacturer than an agricultural producer, with a focus on consistency, branding, margin, and price stability, and a frontline-worker-centric production model inspired by the Toyota Production System. Workers—who, because of NatureSweet’s year-round greenhouse production model, were employed full time—were empowered with training and productivity incentives, allowing them to earn well above the minimum wage and advance their careers within the company. Indeed, improving the lives of workers was the explicit purpose of NatureSweet’s operations. Through its financial incentives, personal and professional development initiatives, and worker-appreciation programs, NatureSweet had cultivated a truly unique, uplifting workplace culture in its Mexico operations. Ambelang aspired to replicate the model in the United States as a way of demonstrating the potential to “transform the lives of agricultural workers in North America.” But in late 2017, the Arizona-based production operations that NatureSweet had acquired in 2014 were still struggling to attain the successes achieved in Mexico. This case describes NatureSweet’s history, achievements in Mexico, and challenges in Arizona, inviting students to evaluate the keys to NatureSweet’s success in Mexico and analyze their potential for replication in the United States. Will Ambelang succeed in Arizona and, in doing so, demonstrate that it is possible to transform the lives of agricultural workers in North America?

    Keywords: NatureSweet; tomatoes; Agriculture; greenhouse; Ambelang; cherry tomatoes; organizational culture; incentives; worker empowerment; Empowerment; Toyota production system; leadership; branding; produce; manufacturing; Organizational change; Agribusiness; Business Model; Employee Relationship Management; Working Conditions; Organizational Culture; Success; Problems and Challenges; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Manufacturing Industry; United States; Mexico; North America;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose, Forest Reinhardt, and Natalie Kindred. "NatureSweet." Harvard Business School Case 518-002, December 2017. (Revised January 2018.)  View Details
  11. Note on Issues Related to the U.S. Agricultural Workforce

    Jose Alvarez, Forest Reinhardt and Natalie Kindred

    Keywords: Agriculture; agricultural; labor; workforce; United States; U.S.; immigration; illegal immigration; undocumented immigrant; unauthorized immigrant; migration; productivity; H-2A; visa; Trump; immigration policy; Mexico; NAFTA; trade; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; United States; Canada; Mexico;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose, Forest Reinhardt, and Natalie Kindred. "Note on Issues Related to the U.S. Agricultural Workforce." Harvard Business School Background Note 718-031, December 2017.  View Details
  12. Dick's Sporting Goods

    Jose B. Alvarez and Matthew G. Preble

    This is the teaching note to accompany Rajiv Lal, Jose B. Alvarez, and Matthew G. Preble, “Dick’s Sporting Goods,” HBS No. 517-007 (Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2017).

    Keywords: sporting goods; retail; e-commerce; Employees; Growth and Development Strategy; Growth Management; Product Marketing; Demand and Consumers; Consumer Behavior; Product; Service Delivery; Service Operations; Partners and Partnerships; Business Strategy; Competition; Corporate Strategy; Expansion; Internet; Retail Industry; United States; Pennsylvania;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., and Matthew G. Preble. "Dick's Sporting Goods." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 518-040, September 2017.  View Details
  13. Godrej Agrovet Ltd (GAVL)

    Jose B. Alvarez, Anjali Raina and Rachna Chawla

    Nadir Godrej, chairman, and B. Yadav, managing director of Godrej Agrovet Ltd (GAVL), grapple with the challenge of growing their cattle feed business—should they integrate vertically despite the challenges of the dairy industry and risk the profitability of the current business? The ban on cow slaughter in India adds to the dilemma.

    Keywords: Agribusiness; Animal-Based Agribusiness; Vertical Integration; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; India;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., Anjali Raina, and Rachna Chawla. "Godrej Agrovet Ltd (GAVL)." Harvard Business School Case 517-014, November 2016. (Revised March 2017.)  View Details
  14. Note on the Impact of Millennials on the Food System

    José B. Alvarez, James Weber and Natalie Kindred

    In 2016, the millennial generation (those age 19 to 35 in 2016), the largest generation by population in the U.S., was entering its prime home buying, family forming, earning and spending years. This generation was showing different beliefs and behaviors than previous generations—beliefs and behaviors that were having a significant impact on the overall economy and in particular on the food industry. This note explores the millennial generation, how it differs from previous generations, and examples of how it is impacting the food industry.

    Keywords: Agribusiness; millennials; food; consumer packaged goods; Food; Age; Consumer Behavior; Agribusiness; Demographics; Values and Beliefs; Consumer Products Industry; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, José B., James Weber, and Natalie Kindred. "Note on the Impact of Millennials on the Food System." Harvard Business School Background Note 517-064, November 2016. (Revised March 2018.)  View Details
  15. Pete & Gerry's

    Jose Alvarez and Natalie Kindred

    Keywords: "Pete & Gerry's; " eggs; egg industry; avian flu; cage free; free range; Agribusiness; Agriculture; industry structure; industry evolution; price volatility; small business; strategy formulation; branding; marketing; premium brand; Growth; consumer; consumer behavior; animal welfare; retail; grocery; food; food labeling; Animal-Based Agribusiness; Advertising Campaigns; Business Model; Change; Change Management; Disruption; Transition; Trends; Volatility; Customer Value and Value Chain; Entrepreneurship; Food; Ethics; Health; Problems and Challenges; Operations; Sales; Risk and Uncertainty; Quality; Public Opinion; Value; Strategy; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Retail Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose, and Natalie Kindred. "Pete & Gerry's." Harvard Business School Case 517-048, November 2016.  View Details
  16. Chicken Republic

    Jose Alvarez and Natalie Kindred

    Deji Akinyanju, founder of Nigerian fast-food chain Chicken Republic, and Ayo Oduntan, founder of an integrated Nigerian poultry operation (Amo Byng Group), are among a growing cadre of skilled food-industry entrepreneurs for whom the opportunities to serve the Nigerian market—a population of over 170 million, including a large and growing middle class—outweigh the challenges of operating there. And indeed, as embodied by Nigeria's status as a net food importer despite having 80 million hectares of potential agricultural land, the challenges are considerable. Animal feed is excessively expensive, driving up poultry production costs and limiting production volumes; illegal poultry imports threaten food safety while undercutting prices of domestic product; corruption is rampant; debt is exorbitantly expensive; commercial real estate is sparse; and electricity is unreliable. Yet, Nigeria has all the natural blessings to be an agricultural powerhouse competitive on an international scale. And it has the large, ambitious population needed to drive its development, both as workers and consumers. Akinyanju and Oduntan believe many of the issues constraining Nigeria's poultry sector can be alleviated with relatively simple solutions—and that doing so can open tremendous growth opportunities for their businesses and the country as a whole. Set in September 2015, this case provides a detailed look at Nigeria's poultry value chain and the complexities of modernizing a traditional and largely informal industry. It also presents an inspiring story of determined entrepreneurs succeeding against tough odds. Finally, for students whose conception of Nigeria is all too often reduced to simplistic headlines, this case offers a more nuanced look into the complexities, potential, and aspirations of what may be one of this century's most dynamic and important economies.

    Keywords: Nigeria; Africa; poultry; chicken; value chain; supply chain; emerging market; Chicken Republic; Amo Byng; Doreo Partners; Babban Gona; reform; infrastructure; MINT; entrepreneurship; QSR; quick serve restaurant; fast food; corruption; governance; Growth; Leadership; Food; Customer Value and Value Chain; Supply Chain; Infrastructure; Animal-Based Agribusiness; Entrepreneurship; Emerging Markets; Growth and Development; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Nigeria; Africa;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose, and Natalie Kindred. "Chicken Republic." Harvard Business School Case 516-052, December 2015. (Revised September 2016.)  View Details
  17. Chilli Beans: Peace, Love, and Sunglasses

    José B. Alvarez, Robert Mackalski and Andrew Otazo

    This case illustrates how Chilli Beans became the most popular sunglasses retailer in Brazil and the issues it faced when expanding into the United States.

    Keywords: marketing; sunglasses; Brazil; Sao Paulo; Chilli Beans; watches; fast fashion; supply chain; retail; franchise; international expansion; culture; middle class; fashion; Corporate Entrepreneurship; Global Strategy; Customer Focus and Relationships; Customer Value and Value Chain; Design; Economic Growth; Economic Slowdown and Stagnation; Goods and Commodities; Leadership; Marketing; Operations; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Fashion Industry; Manufacturing Industry; Brazil; China;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, José B., Robert Mackalski, and Andrew Otazo. "Chilli Beans: Peace, Love, and Sunglasses." Harvard Business School Case 516-020, February 2016. (Revised August 2016.)  View Details
  18. The Promise of Agriculture in the Republic of Cuba

    Jose B. Alvarez, Andrew Otazo and Carin-Isabel Knoop

    This background note explains Cuba's past and current agriculture policies, as well as provides insights into its future potential as relations with the U.S. normalize.

    Keywords: Cuba; Agribusiness; Agriculture; errosion; embargo; Fidel Castro; Raul Castro; Plant-Based Agribusiness; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Cuba;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., Andrew Otazo, and Carin-Isabel Knoop. "The Promise of Agriculture in the Republic of Cuba." Harvard Business School Background Note 516-067, January 2016. (Revised March 2016.)  View Details
  19. Ocado

    José Alvarez, David E. Bell and Damien McLoughlin

    In 2015, U.K.-based Ocado was the world's largest pure player in the online home-delivery grocery business and was gaining a growing share of the highly competitive U.K. grocery market. Ocado had made heavy investments in technology, including a highly automated warehouse operation, intelligent software for efficient order delivery, and a customer-friendly online interface. Ocado's customer base had expanded beyond the wealthy to include middle-income consumers; even with a delivery charge, grocery shopping through Ocado was, in many cases, as affordable as shopping in a retail store. In 2015 the company was developing a strategy for its Smart Platform, a model in which Ocado would lease its software, hardware, and integration services to brick-and-mortar grocery retailers seeking to build online businesses. Ocado's management believed the Smart Platform, which they planned to market internationally, had the potential to disrupt the global grocery retail market.

    Keywords: Ocado; grocery; retail; online grocery; supermarket; supply chain; delivery models; service models; United Kingdom; competition; technology; operations management; Market Platforms; Competition; Online Technology; Service Operations; Service Delivery; Supply Chain; Marketing; Retail Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; United Kingdom;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, José, David E. Bell, and Damien McLoughlin. "Ocado." Harvard Business School Case 516-059, December 2015. (Revised February 2016.)  View Details
  20. Lipman: Vertical Integration in Fresh Tomatoes

    José B. Alvarez and Carin-Isabel Knoop

    Lipman, the largest open field fresh tomato grower and marketer in the United States, has been successfully pursuing an aggressive strategy of acquisitions over the last several years. End-market consolidation in the retail space has driven vertical integration in the extremely competitive fresh tomato business, where farm gate prices have not changed in 30 years. The company is facing pressure from climate change, alternative uses for farmland, and a transition to the next generation of family ownership of the business.

    Keywords: Vertical Integration; Agribusiness; tomatoes; Fresh produce; Vertical Integration; Agribusiness; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; United States; Cuba; Central America;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, José B., and Carin-Isabel Knoop. "Lipman: Vertical Integration in Fresh Tomatoes." Harvard Business School Case 516-053, November 2015. (Revised February 2016.)  View Details
  21. Simplot Plant Sciences: Designing a Better Potato

    Jose B. Alvarez and Mary Shelman

    Privately held Simplot has developed a new genetically engineered potato that substantially reduces waste and does not turn brown after cutting. Unlike other GMOs, it does not contain foreign genes. The case describes the company's commercialization plans in light of the complex environment surrounding genetically modified foods.

    Keywords: GMO; sustainability; Agribusiness; biotechnology; disruptive innovation; food and environment; Product positioning; Plant-Based Agribusiness; Food; Disruptive Innovation; Technological Innovation; Marketing; Product Positioning; Genetics; Value Creation; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., and Mary Shelman. "Simplot Plant Sciences: Designing a Better Potato." Harvard Business School Case 515-042, December 2014. (Revised February 2017.)  View Details
  22. J.C. Penney's 'Fair and Square' Strategy (B): Out with the New, In with the Old

    Elie Ofek, Jill Avery and Jose B. Alvarez

    In his August 2012 earnings call, CEO Ron Johnson urged investors to be patient and stay the course with the revised JC Penney marketing strategy despite mounting negative financial indicators. The heart of the strategy was the "Fair and Square" approach to pricing. This was a switch from J.C. Penney's previous high-low pricing program to a new everyday low pricing policy that aimed to fit with a radical repositioning of the JC Penney business model and brand. However, with sales continuing to decline the Board fired Johnson in April 2013 and appointed Johnson's predecessor Myron E. "Mike" Ullman III as his successor. What would Ullman do to stop JC Penney's losses? Would he push forward with Johnson's "Fair and Square" vision; would he return to the former strategy; could he manage a hybrid strategy; or would he define a new path for the retailer to follow?

    Keywords: Decisions; Marketing Strategy; Retail Industry;

    Citation:

    Ofek, Elie, Jill Avery, and Jose B. Alvarez. "J.C. Penney's 'Fair and Square' Strategy (B): Out with the New, In with the Old." Harvard Business School Supplement 514-085, January 2014.  View Details
  23. Muñoz Group: Sustaining Global Vertical Integration Through Innovation

    Jose B. Alvarez and Annelena Lobb

    Muñoz Group, which supplied supermarket chains and food distribution chains around the world with fruit, flowers, juice and ice cream, was at a strategic crossroads in 2014. CEO Alvaro Muñoz had to choose the best way to achieve profit goals and provide his company with a sustainable competitive advantage. The company had already developed innovative citrus, grape and flower breeding units in efforts to keep its product pipeline on the cutting edge. The company also worked to integrate vertically—to own or control every viable piece of the supply chain—in an effort to manage the flower and produce businesses from plant to retailer. The company's stronghold was its UK and European markets, but it had expanded into North America and also eyed new opportunities in Asia. Muñoz had to decide where to focus his efforts against a backdrop of margin squeezes in the food business, competition for product from the developing world, ever more stringent quality, sustainability, and environmental standards from clients, and perennial hiring challenges.

    Keywords: innovation; supply chain; retail; Agribusiness Industry; Globalized Firms and Management; Supply Chain Management; Competitive Advantage; Vertical Integration; Profit; Innovation and Invention; Retail Industry; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; North and Central America;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., and Annelena Lobb. "Muñoz Group: Sustaining Global Vertical Integration Through Innovation." Harvard Business School Case 515-011, December 2014. (Revised August 2015.)  View Details
  24. HEINEKEN—Brewing a Better World

    Forest L. Reinhardt, José Alvarez, Tonia Junker and Daniela Beyersdorfer

    The Dutch company HEINEKEN, one of the leading global brewers known for its brands like Heineken, Amstel, and Desperados and for its award-winning marketing campaigns, seeks to closely integrate its long-term sustainability "Brewing a Better World" approach into its corporate strategy. HEINEKEN had set itself ambitious 2015 and 2020 sustainability targets in six pillar areas around energy/CO2, water, sustainable sourcing, responsible consumption, community/inclusive growth, and health and safety. The case focuses on HEINEKEN's efforts in the sustainable sourcing pillar, with its work on farming standards and supplier code as well as its support for local sourcing programs in the growing African market. HEINEKEN's management finds that marketing its achievements in these sustainability areas poses new challenges though. For example, its current "mass-balance" sourcing, in which sustainable and traditional material got mixed in the supply chain, did not allow for effective communication on a given bottle. But was this reason enough to try to move to "segregated" sourcing, if that was even reasonable?

    Keywords: Beer/brewing industry; sustainability; local sourcing; Corporate Strategy; Global Strategy; Brands and Branding; Marketing Strategy; Supply Chain Management; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Food and Beverage Industry;

    Citation:

    Reinhardt, Forest L., José Alvarez, Tonia Junker, and Daniela Beyersdorfer. "HEINEKEN—Brewing a Better World." Harvard Business School Case 715-022, December 2014. (Revised July 2016.)  View Details
  25. HN Agri Serve: Growing Prosperity

    Jose B. Alvarez, Anjali Raina and Rachna Chawla

    In 2014, Khuram Mir, CEO of HN Agri Serve, an innovative apple orchard company in the Kashmir region of Northern India, wonders about the best growth strategy for his company.

    Keywords: Agribusiness; Entrepreneurship in emerging markets; india; Agribusiness; Entrepreneurship; Food and Beverage Industry; India;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., Anjali Raina, and Rachna Chawla. "HN Agri Serve: Growing Prosperity." Harvard Business School Case 515-006, December 2014.  View Details
  26. Disrupting the Meat Industry: Tissue Culture Beef

    Jose B. Alvarez and Matthew G. Preble

    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. (Revised March 2015.)  View Details
  27. Ocean Mist Farms

    David E. Bell, Jose B. Alvarez, Mary Shelman and Michael Norris

    In late 2012, Kori Tuggle, director of marketing and business development at Ocean Mist Farms, a California produce company, examines her social media-based marketing program and her attempts to create a brand for a bulk commodity.

    Keywords: Agribusiness; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; United States; California;

    Citation:

    Bell, David E., Jose B. Alvarez, Mary Shelman, and Michael Norris. "Ocean Mist Farms." Harvard Business School Case 513-027, December 2012.  View Details
  28. Ghurka

    Jose B. Alvarez, Walter J. Salmon and Christine Snively

    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. (Revised January 2015.)  View Details
  29. Mission Produce

    Jose B. Alvarez and Mary Shelman

    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. (Revised August 2015.)  View Details
  30. Tesco Group Food

    Jose B. Alvarez, Damien P. McLoughlin and Mary Shelman

    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
  31. VP Group: Vegpro Grows Beyond Kenya

    Jose Alvarez and Natalie Kindred

    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. (Revised July 2015.)  View Details
  32. Barbara Krakow Gallery

    Jose Alvarez and Nyssa Liebermann

    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. (Revised January 2015.)  View Details
  33. Lufa Farms

    Jose B. Alvarez, Robert Mackalski, Annelena Loeb and Lisa Mazzanti

    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
  34. Creating a Luxury Experience at Value Retail

    Jose B. Alvarez and Matthew Preble

    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
  35. Mutti S.p.a.

    Jose B. Alvarez, Carin-Isabel Knoop and Mary Shelman

    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
  36. H-E-B: Creating a Movement to Reduce Obesity in Texas

    Jose B. Alvarez, Jason Riis and Walter J. Salmon

    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
  37. Doug Rauch: Solving the American Food Paradox

    Jose B. Alvarez and Ryan Johnson

    Keywords: Food; Policy; Social Issues; Business Model; Strategy; Food and Beverage Industry; Retail Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Alvarez, Jose B., and Ryan Johnson. "Doug Rauch: Solving the American Food Paradox." Harvard Business School Case 512-022, December 2011. (Revised February 2012.)  View Details
  38. Zespri

    Jose B. Alvarez and Mary Louise Shelman

    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
  39. FreshTec: Revolutionizing Fresh Produce

    Jose B. Alvarez and Ryan Johnson

    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
  40. Paydiant

    Jose B. Alvarez, Elizabeth C. Williamson and James Weber

    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
  41. Customer Loyalty Schemes in the Retail Sector

    Jose B. Alvarez and Aldo Sesia

    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
  42. Note on Store Location

    David E. Bell and Jose B. Alvarez

    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
  43. Red Tomato: Keeping It Local

    Jose B. Alvarez, Mary Louise Shelman and Laura Winig

    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