"There is no success without suffering," says Francisco Xavier Leite, Têxteis Penedo’s CEO, who took us to lunch to Novais, in Guimarães.
ife taught Xavier Leite that the letter S chapter in the dictionary is very accurate: first appears sacrifice, then suffering, and only then – lastly – comes success.
“There is no success without suffering,” says Têxteis Penedo’s CEO, who was a child when he started to work. He was given an interview at Lusaustri, which could only have gone very well, because at the end they told him that he was starting work on the following day.
At home, he spent the night persuading his father to let him go to work, promising that he would continue to study at night.
He started at the warehouse, earning 600 escudos, a salary that doubled the following month, and soon he was earning more money than his father. After that, the climb to the top continued until he ended up being Alberto Sousa’s, the man who ruled Lusaustri, henchman. Always on the rise.
“I had never seen a loom or a stamping machine”, he says, regarding the boldness of becoming Foncar’s chief administrator in the early 1980s, while Portugal was under the International Monetary Fund’s intervention.
Foncar was a large ship, with 400 workers, which rocked on the edge of the abyss, but Xavier didn’t let that frighten him and managed to turn the company around, multiplying the company’s turnover by ten in little more than three years by betting on a novelty called Tactel – which allowed him to become one of NATO’s suppliers and to make sweat suits for Hummel.
When he switched Foncar for Bordalima, he was ready to become an entrepreneur. The opportunity to make the leap was Penedo, a supplier that sold him almost all of their bedspreads production.
“It was a well-run company, but with two weaknesses: an excessive exposure to the domestic market and to the manufacturing of a single product– bedspreads”, recalls Xavier, who soon turned the company around by directing it to exports and by diversifying its range of products.
Propelled by the bank, which urged him to move forward, he set up an ambitious investment plan to increase capacity, “a huge thing” that got sabotaged by the economic crisis that swept Portugal.
This century’s first decade was a hard and difficult period, but for six years now Penedo has its head out of the water and has proven capable to swim in a calmer – but not danger-free – sea.
“Globally, consumption has stagnated. We feel that demand started to slow down in late 2016. So, our strategy is simple: to keep investing in innovation and machinery that allows us to make new, different and more advanced products for niche markets”, summarizes Penedo’s CEO, a beacon of innovation of the Portuguese Textile industry , which, among other things, presents as its business card the cork.a.Tex-yarn, and a set of curtains with built-in led lights.
He was born in Guimarães, the third of six children from the marriage of a stay-at-home mom and an army captain. He began working on his own initiative when he was 13, as a warehouse employee at Lusaustri, and lived a full adolescence. By day he was at the factory, in the evening he was at school, and still found time to play football. From Lusaustri he jumped to Foncar's administration and after that to Bordalima, where he was the commercial director, before becoming an entrepreneur at Têxteis Penedo. He has five daughters, ranging from 40 to 13 years old.
Rua Santa Apolónia 24