Small Business

Four generations of cake - keeping tradition alive in the digital economy

November 14, 2023

Imperiales Alonso has been in business for four generations. Now, they are finding new ways to engage with 21st century customers.

Founded in 1887 by Emilio Alonso Ferrero in a small town called La Bañeza in León, Spain, Imperiales Alonso has a reputation for selling quality cakes and confectionary.

The star product, The Imperial, is an almond cake - and its recipe has been passed down through generations.

Family is at the heart of this business, and each member is focused on continuing the success and legacy left by Emilio.

Today, Emilio’s great-grandson Ordoño Alonso manages the business. Working alongside his wife, he recognises more than anyone the value of working with family. 

“I know my family will take care of the business as much as I do. It is the basis of our income, and everyone has a role.”
Ordoño Alonso

For the husband-and-wife duo, taking care of customers and creating a personalised experience with every purchase is what makes their small business unique. It is this relationship with their customers that sets them apart and to what they attribute their success.

They also pride themselves on the quality of their product; paying a visit to the shops they distribute their products to every week to check that they are in perfect condition, and their own shop daily too.

While this attention to detail can only be provided as a result of it being small and family run, Alonso recognises that it is this very nature of his business which also presents challenges:

“Working in a family business means that it can be difficult to separate your professional and personal life, dedicating yourself to it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
Ordoño Alonso

Imperiales Alonso recipes may have remained untouched for generations, but that isn’t stopping them from embracing change as they step into the digital economy.

They have recently introduced a payments portal on their online store, enabling them to deliver fresh products within 24 hours from their workshop to anywhere in the country. They also now offer tap-to-pay card payments in store and are keen to continue their modernisation journey.

How we're supporting Europe's small businesses

To understand how small businesses are responding to Europe’s increasingly digital economy and society, Mastercard conducted a study earlier this year which revealed that family businesses often struggle to modernise, with 27% of employees thinking their family firm has a closed mindset to adapting with the times and trying new things.   

As small family-run businesses like Imperiales Alonso look to make the most of the digital economy, Mastercard will be there to support these next steps and help provide the right tools and solutions for the job.