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Week at the top

By Families in Business

José Ferrer is President of Freixenet SA, the world's largest sparkling wine producer, with wineries in Spain, France, California and Mexico. As he prepares the next generation for the challenges of working in the family business, he tells us what he encounters during a 'typical' working week

7:00am. I get up, have breakfast and read today's papers. Since my wife, Gloria, and I usually spend Sunday night in our living quarters at the Freixenet winery in Sant Sadurni d'Anoia, I only have a 60-second commute.

8:00am. Family executive meeting. I meet with my two sons and four nephewsto review our short and medium range goals. This is also the time when we address any high-priority issues, such as production line hold ups or orders falling behind in the usa.

12:00pm. I attend to any correspondence and review the week's agenda. Call France and enquire about future grape price increases in Champagne. Take several calls from our lawyers.

1:30pm. Family lunch at the winery. Our daily family lunch is a long Ferrer tradition, prepared by my sister Lola. Besides the wonderful home-cooked food and fellowship, it's a good, informal way to keep the family upto-date with any business and family matters.

4:00pm. More calls and letters. I don't own a computer so all letters I write are written by hand. I think a personal letter in this age of electronic telecommunications is incredibly valuable.

6:30pm. I meet our top marketing executives, Eudaldo and Pedro Bonet, who are two of my nephews. We discuss our holiday television campaign and Eudaldo and Pedro suggest potential celebrities we can approach.

8:30pm. Drive home to our Barcelona apartment with my son Pedro, who is Chief Executive Officer at Friexenet. It's a good time to catch up on family issues or a pressing business question.

9:00pm. Gloria and I usually only have a light dinner ? mostly fruit and yogurt. We'll watch the news and then lights out at 11:00 pm.

8:00am. Chauffeur arrives to take me to Sant Sadurni d'Anoia, a 35-mile drive away.

8:40am. Morning spent signing cheques, reviewing shipping numbers, writing letters.

1:30pm. I take representatives from our German distributor on a tour of the winery. Our caves are 8 levels deep and hold over 140 million bottles.

2:30pm. We dine at the winery's dining room.

4:00pm. Return to my desk. I have a meeting with Señor Bori, our head of production. We review orders, new line construction, and any union concerns.

6:00pm. I meet with José Maria, my son who is in charge of sales in Spain. We address our holiday strategy for chain store markets and personnel issues in Madrid.

8:30pm. Drive to Barcelona with my son Pedro. We discuss management changes in the US operation. The USAis a very important marketfor us ? I will be making five visits this year.

9:00pm. A light dinner and an early night.

8:30am. Interview with a radio station from Barcelona. It has taken many years to overcome a natural shyness. Nowadays there are courses in speech making and/or media contact that would have been much appreciated all those years ago! I've had, however, considerable practice and am now moderately successful.

2:00pm. Patron's lunch at the Palace of Music (Palau de la Musica) ? one of Barcelona's cultural landmarks.

5:00pm. A long lunch! I rush through to our Barcelona sales office to meet with box company officials.

8:30pm. Arrive at our Sant Sadurni d'Anoia winery and have an early night as I am flying to Madrid the next morning.

8:00am. I rush through some office work and take a quick call from Pedro Bonet, my nephew, who is the president of Henri Abelé, our champagne house in France.

10:00am. Fly to Madrid. 11:30am. I attend a meeting of copec, an organisation of around 100 selected members who have been brought together to help guide Spain into a more 'technological future'.

2:30pm. Lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Madrid.

7:00pm. Arrive home in Barcelona.

8:30pm. Some members of my family and I attend the opera Aidain the Liceo, Barcelona's famed opera house. We are patrons and have assisted in its recent rebuilding following a fire.

1:00am. Arrive home in Barcelona, exhausted!

8:00am. Chauffeured to the winery.

9:00am. I attend several meetings with department heads: the head of Export, Bernd Halbach, and my nephew, the Chairman, José Louis Bonet. José is Freixenet's representative with the cavaregulatory board.

12:00pm. I participate in a small wine tasting of wine that will go into cava. My mother ran the winery for 40 years and I have yet to meet anyone who has as good a palate.

1:00pm. I meet with Enrique Hevia, my nephew, who is our financial director. We review a possible winery acquisition.

2:00pm. I go to Hotel Juan Carlos in Barcelona to lunch with a tertuliaof male friends, all from different walks of life. We discuss politics, business and, of course, football.

5:00pm. Return home.

6:00pm. Gloria and I walk to the movies. Even after 40 years of marriage, I still feel as if I'm on a date with a beautiful, young woman.

 8:30pm. We drive home to the winery.

9:00 ? 9:30am. Get up late ? no alarm clock required today!

11:00am. I meet with several patrons of my old grammar school called Colegio San Josep in Sant Sadurni d'Anoia.

1:00pm. Lunch with Gloria and Lola.

4:00pm. We go to our stables with my sonin-law, my granddaughter and a friend. We ride for 15 miles through the countryside below the famous mountain and monastery, Montserrat. Riding is my hobby.

8:00pm. We return to the winery.

10:30pm. Early to bed.

10:00am. We go riding again.

5:00pm. Late lunch with Gloria and Lola.

7:00pm. Gloria and I go to mass in a small mountain Hermita close to Sant Sadurni.

8:00pm. We return to the winery and have a pa amb tomacat (bread with smeared cherry stone tomato, olive oil and salt).

11:00pm. I watch the news and, after a restful Sunday, I'm ready to turn in. Next week I fly to the USA.

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