Andrea Prado

Francisco Leguizamón


INCAE Business School Costa Rica

Published in


CSU-CCA Group (CSU-CCA) is one of the leading retailing businesses in Central America. The Group includes the Corporación de Supermercados Unidos (CSU), a supermarket chain, and the Corporación de Compañías Agroindustriales (CCA), in charge of fresh and private-label product storage and distribution for CSU supermarkets. In 2003, CSU-CCA was thriving and growing fast. In Costa Rica, CSU dominated nearly 60% of the supermarket channel, which accounted for a 30% share of the total domestic food market. It catered to every market segment through four retail formats: discount stores, conventional supermarkets, warehouse stores and hypermarkets. CSU was the private company with the highest headcount in Costa Rica -9,500 “associates”- and it operated 134 stores in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, as well as 350 stores as part of the Central American Retail Holding Company (CARHCO).

CSU-CCA was involved in several social programs for both its personnel and other members of the communities where it operated. Some of these programs were institutionalized, while others were not. In some cases, the Group’s involvement had stemmed from a personal initiative driven by one of its employees or managers, although the programs were not aligned to company strategies. By mid 2002, CSU-CCA made a corporate decision to articulate its social engagements within its business strategy as a means to become more effectively involved in its surrounding communities. As a result, in May 2002, the Group’s Corporate Affairs Department (DAC) was created to oversee corporate social responsibility issues and external communications with stakeholders. The DAC would report to CSU-CCA Board’s Chairman.

Case readers are encouraged to characterize CSU-CCA social programs and to play the role of Manuel Zuñiga, Corporate Affairs Department Head and Social Responsibility Committee member, who, at an upcoming meeting, would have to recommend which social ventures to support and which not to. He would also need to answer other questions, such as: how should the company draw away from the programs it would no longer support to avoid alienating their leaders? How should CSU-CCA develop future programs? How should it go about raising personnel awareness of and commitment to social programs?