Who’s Belmiro Gomes, the ex-bóia-fria behind the wholesale big Assaí
- October 17, 2022
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Belmiro has been in the food sector for 35 years, starting in a chain from Paraná, Musamar, when he was just 15 years old.
In recent weeks, the Belmiro Gomes It has gotten even more crowded. In addition to the daily commitments of a president of one of the country’s cash and carry giants, the assaí, the executive has been participating in the opening of new stores in the chain, many of which are a reflection of the acquisition of the 70 Extra hypermarkets now converted to the new banner. This year alone, 40 stores across the country will receive the new “costume”. Last Friday, before 9 am, the executive was already at the opening of a store in Interlagos, south of São Paulo. And the workday, as usual, didn’t end until 12 hours later.
“Anyone who goes to an opening will always remember when they pass in front of the store. And it is necessary to set an example”, says the executive, who took office in 2011, when Assaí had less than 40 stores and was present in few regions of Brazil.
Over a decade that number has multiplied by five. Today, it has more than 230 points of sale. And those who know Belmiro repeat that the executive is the “belly on the counter” type, checking out the operation very closely. “If you continue like this, you can get sick”, says an acquaintance. Belmiro, however, tells Estadão that there is no reason for his concern. Father of four children and two stepchildren, Belmiro recently learned that he will be a grandfather. And he ensures that the weekends are almost always free and dedicated to the family.
Another definition that is always associated with the executive is the fact that he managed to make Assaí a giant without losing the “spirit” of the business: the lean cost, which allows lower prices to the consumer. Belmiro says that his humble origins help him understand the importance of selling cheap. “Being able to sell a product at a 15% lower price has always fascinated me,” he says.
Born in Santo André, in Greater São Paulo, Belmiro moved to the Paraná city of Maringá at age 8, after his father fell ill and his mother decided to stay closer to his family. The middle brother of three children, the president of Assaí started working early, selling ice cream, shining shoes and even working as a cold worker. “I had my first formal contract when I was 13 years old,” he recalls.
The daily work at Assaí has paid off. The effect of the increase in stores is reflected today in the company’s value. From a company purchased by GPA, owner of Pão de Açúcar, for around R$400 million (first part acquired in 2007 and the rest in 2009), the chain has become a giant worth R$27 billion on the Brazilian stock exchange. . The business was separated from GPA and today it is already a bigger offspring than the parent company, currently valued at R$ 6 billion.
Belmiro has been in the food sector for 35 years, starting in a chain from Paraná, Musamar, when he was just 15 years old. From there, he went to work at Atacadão, where he stayed for two decades. He arrived at the network even before the retailer was bought by Carrefour, in 2007, for R$ 2 billion. The executive, now 50 years old, recalls the entire evolution of the cash and carry model in the country – initially, it was a distant format from the consumer and required a card for purchases. “In the beginning, the model was very spartan and our Achilles heel was that we didn’t have a good shopping experience”, he recalls.
Since then, the wholesale model has changed. Belmiro says that currently 93% of the hypermarkets’ assortment is already found in the cash and carry store. One of the gaps closed recently was the installation of butchers in stores, an old demand from the clientele. The executive emphasizes that it is necessary to look closely at the needs of each neighborhood where the store is installed in order to understand the consumption needs. Therefore, some units even have a wine cellar.
Now, when entering the neighborhoods, Assaí will not only approach individual customers, but also small businesses, such as bars and restaurants. These small businesses don’t have the working capital to stock up, especially of perishables, which requires their owners to make purchases several times a week.
President of the Sociedade Brasileira do Varejo e Consumo (SBVC), Eduardo Terra says that Belmiro has demonstrated, throughout his career, the strategic discipline of keeping the cash and carry model faithful to its original proposal. “The adjustments that have taken place are very fine. A lean assortment and large volumes were maintained to be able to have a price equation and a good margin”, he points out.