2021 PRESIDENTS SPECIAL INTERVIEWS
Economic recovery depends on more stability, reforms and vaccination.These are the pillars that the leaders of the electronics industry consider the basic principles for Brazil to move forward.
by Leda Cavalcanti and Dilnara Titara
The abrupt halt in activities caused by the pandemic in 2020 put obstacles that seemed insurmountable ahead of all sectors, precisely in a year that had started reasonably well, with an 8% increase in sales of home appliances and electronics by the beginning of March. With the stores closed and a climate of near inertia, the segment went to the fight with agility and creativity.
Retail accelerated e-commerce, expanded the product mix and created support actions for those unfamiliar with the platform. The industry used its director channel to communicate with the consumer. If he could not reach them, both moved towards him, facing the well-known challenges of the Brazilian logistics network. There were losses, it is true, but the actions contributed to making the scenario less impactful.
Now, strategic planning is urgently needed to recover the economy. Measures such as emergency aid helped to ease the situation last year, injected resources into the economy, but there are no conditions to make them permanent. Palliative actions are useful at any given time but, advances necessarily involve mass vaccination of the population. It is she who will dictate the pace of the resumption.
Brazil needs a consistent agenda, with the inclusion of long-awaited reforms, such as the tax since the current system hinders growth and productivity. There are countless problems to be solved and many uncertainties. The country needs to be faster and offer greater stability so that 2021 does not become another year of multiple challenges.
Overall, 2020 was a very good year for Berlanda and trade as a whole, says the president. “Due to the pandemic, people consumed much more. Our e-commerce, for example, grew above 100% compared to 2019. It was a key piece, such as selling through digital platforms, which resulted in a new vision of the business.”
In 2021, when it turns 30, the company plans to increase investment in expanding its digital channels, including applying tools to assist stores at the point of sale. “Our customers can already do everything for BerlanZap, so it’s a segment we can’t get away from. We’ve also expanded the ‘buy on site and pick up at store’. In addition, we are structuring, together with the marketing department, a great anniversary campaign”, says Nilso.
“Due to the pandemic, people consumed much more in 2020. Our e-commerce grew above 100% compared to 2019.”
The company’s goal for this year is to remain strong and stable in the market, affirms Nilso. “We projected growth of 10% for 2021, in the face of economic uncertainties, both national and global. So, it’s a challenge this year.”
The year of 2020 was very challenging, says the president, but Certel took advantage of it to structure relevant projects, consolidate teams and expand virtual stores and channels. “We understand that the 2021 setting remains unstable, but our actions will allow us sustained sales increase, in products and services, with profitability. Investing in home comfort and civil construction may relieve the pandemic and global economic recession negative impacts.”
Among the actions scheduled for this year, there’s the appreciation of more cost-benefit lines, the focus on stores and online support, and the company consolidation in its operating core, says Erineo. “Store improvements and strategic expansion will be a fuel for growth. E-commerce has become more relevant and is an ally of physical store assets. Both expand and contribute together for us to be an excellent multi-channel option.”
“E-commerce has become more relevant and is an ally of physical store assets.”
The company remains careful in anything involving health. “We are not sure how far Covid-19 may affect our planning. In addition, there are macroeconomical, political and tax factors which are retail adversaries. But the biggest challenge yet is the formation of qualified professionals tuned to Certel’s cooperative culture, our particularity”, tells Erineo.
The company promoted a restructuring in 2019 and started 2020 very well, says the superintendent. “We had the best sales expectations until the pandemic came and, with it, the closure of our brick-and-mortar stores, with a consequent drop in sales. In 2021, we expect to grow in sales compared to the past two years, but this is directly linked to the success of the immunization plan.”
This is an important year to continue the restructuring plan, says Homero. “We are going to intensify the actions in the commercial area through the strategic review of the market, the sales force and the management process to enhance and retain the customer base. We will also broaden the offer of services and e-commerce and tele sales channels. Consumer behavior has changed very quickly. We need to adapt.”
“In 2021 we will also broaden the offer of services and e-commerce and tele sales channels.”
Government aid, for both companies and citizens, has proved to be an important alternative to alleviate the crisis, says Homero. “But we know that they are not sustainable. The stability and resumption of retail sales will depend on measures to control the pandemic and increase consumer confidence, in addition, of course, on the maintenance of activities, provided that all safety protocols are respected.
In 2021, the company will continue with the expansion of the network, which resumed in 2020, says the CEO. “After three years without opening stores, we expect to open 25 this year. Our growth target is 15% compared to 2020. We are optimistic and we believe that the growth will come with the expansion of the company to new regions and the strengthening of the e-commerce operation. “
Eletrozema will enter Belo Horizonte metro area, in the south of Bahia and in the Midwest of the country, says Romero. “The focus on integration and multichannel will become stronger this year with the implementation of new CRM, ominichannel and tele sales tools. We are also evaluating the feasibility of structuring our own marketplace to expand the mix and increase digital presence.”
“After three years without opening stores, we expect to open 25 this year. Our growth target is 15% compared to 2020.”
Its e-commerce, opened in August 2019, saw its share of sales rise from 1% to almost 10% in the pandemic. “We have accelerated some important digital projects, such as operating in other marketplaces and integrating with physical stores, so that the customer has the same experience in all channels. This is the goal. A challenge this year is to overcome the limitations caused by the pandemic”, says Romero.
2020 was a year of hard work, change of habits, paradigm shifts, and challenges, says the CEO. “It has demanded more daily management and monitoring of every indicator but, in the end, it was the best in our history. We have implemented major changes: we’ve sped up digital transformation, enhanced the purchasing experience and created a products and services portfolio for the new needs. We are prepared to expand even further in 2021.”
Therefore, the group will continue with its business digital transformation, improving and expanding in online channels, broadening solutions for small and medium retail and improve the value proposals to the clients, says Flávio. “We will also move on in services infrastructure, with continuous improvements in logistics operations, strengthening our marketplace and expanding assortment both in 1P and 3P.”
“We want to be the hub of the industry and market through our marketplace.”
With the pandemic, actions that would be implemented in two years were anticipated. Customers had to adapt to be able to sell with closed stores, and Martins was crucial for the supply, financing, and development of small and medium retailers. “We want to be the hub of the industry and market through our marketplace. We want to be the solution and to offer the best range of financial services and qualification to clients”, says Flávio.
Many activities which were probed by the company, from home office to store expansion projects, were speed up due to the pandemic, accounts the marketing director. “The year of 2020 has brought us good results and we hope that 2021 strengthens the strategies we have adopted lately. We have recorded a rather significant increase in sales of our e-commerce and marketplace. We see great opportunities for this year.”
Although many customers have taken the habit of online shopping for safety purposes, the company considers that its stores are still extremely relevant in the decisive moment of purchasing. “For this reason, we believe that both models complement each other. We understand that the physical and digital environments deserve the same attention, range of services and investments, says François.
“In 2020, we have recorded a rather significant increase in sales of our e-commerce and marketplace.”
In this year’s agenda there are studies for broadening the Express store format, aimed at consumers from neighboring districts, and the analysis of sites for the eventual inauguration of new units, tells François. “Another area which shall have the full focus of operations is the environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG). We expect to not create more plastic or cardboard use beyond what is strictly necessary. We will recycle all waste created. The goal in 2021 is to recycle at least 85% of waste.”
The year of 2021 will be of stability in comparison to last year, says the director-president. “We hope, in terms of market sales, it to be similar to 2020 due to the high demand for home products. The trend is of a low drop in some lines, for having a low re-purchase rate. Our estimate is to maintain the same revenue of last year in products, but to improve in services.”
The word of the moment is digitalization, states Pedro Henrique. “Digital transformation is not a goal, but rather a culture. I believe the pandemic has accelerated the digitalization process in the world, including bringing more customers to digital channels and keeping them as purchase options.”
“Our estimate in 2021 is to maintain the same revenue of 2020 in products, but to improve in services.”
At Liberatti’s investments and projects planning, there is the understanding of the macroeconomic trend, participation in the digitalization process and the implementation of artificial intelligence projects within the company. “These are the goals and challenges for this year, and also the following years”, tells Pedro Henrique.
Investments started in 2020 will continue this year, says the general supervisor. “The new distribution center, with an investment of around BRL 150 million, will be ready. We will continue the implementation of SAP, which will bring a gain in scale to our operation, and we plan to open 12 to 15 subsidiaries in company owned buildings, with 1,400 m². We will also continue the installation of the photovoltaic system in the stores, and by the end of the year, 100 of them will produce clean energy.”
The pandemic has strengthened our retail thinking even more, declared José Domingos. “We were prepared to face the difficulties. Lojas Cem was one of the few that could honor its commitments on time with all suppliers. It maintained projects and investments, and, even with the closure of 80% of the affiliates for 70 days, it obtained an expressive result in 2020.”
“We plan to open 12 to 15 affiliates in company-owned buildings, with 1,400 m², in 2021.”
In 2021, there are two challenges. “As long as the population is not immunized, we will live with insecurity and possible lock downs. So, the first big challenge is to overcome this phase. The economy’s recovery is the other one, but I believe it will be made easier with the planned reforms and the fiscal adjustment, which will increase the confidence for new investments, including foreign investments, and the consequent generation of jobs, fostering consumption,” says José Domingos.
2020 was really difficult year, but it was also a year of learning, especially in terms of improving processes and productivity, says the president. “In 2021, we will unite the challenges and the new opportunities in the market. The biggest challenge is to recover the losses of 2020 and keep growing. But we are prepared; with the team’s engagement with the big SAP turnaround, carried out in the middle of the pandemic, and with the resumption of robust planning.”
The company maintains its expansion plan, which foresees the opening of more branches in Rio Grande do Sul. “The idea is to expand the number of stores in the traditional model, with a complete mix, in addition to Lebes Moda and Lebes Express, new group’s business model,” says Otelmo. “They are stores of up to 150 m² and less cost, which take the Lebes way of working for cities with up to 10,000 inhabitants. We plan to open around 40 in 2021.”
“The company maintains its expansion plan, which foresees the opening of more branches in Rio Grande do Sul.”
This year, the company chain also wants to increase investment in digitalizing processes, both in the physical and digital environments. In the financial area, it intends to explore new services and opportunities, such as digital accounts for customers. “The pandemic reinforced the omnichannel, which Lebes already valued, offering the same credit and price experience in all its channels”, says Otelmo.
Reinventing ourselves was the company motto in 2020, says president Jersolau Pauliki “Despite complications caused by the pandemic, we were able to adapt and had commercial results above expectations. Things that were scheduled to be done in five years were made in the space of three to four months. We reinvented ourselves through new digital sales channels, and e-commerce has become an ally of physical store.”
This year the challenge is to overcome 2020 results even without the government’s emergency aid. “We have a budgetary strategic planning with the purpose of increasing our sales by at least 15% in comparison to 2020. This will be challenging, but I believe we will achieve good results. Our goal is to maintain the trajectory of what we call Project MM 50, that is, we intend to double our revenue by 2028”, tells Jeroslau.
We reinvented ourselves through new digital sales channels, and e-commerce has become an ally of physical store.”
In this 2021, the company is investing in remodeling over 30 stores and in opening 10 to 20 units, organically, says the president. “We expect a strong growth in the digital/e-commerce way and in the increasing interaction with the omnichannel concept. We will invest in new management tools, qualification and training of our employees, our focus. For eight years we’ve been among the best companies to work in Brazil.”
An excellent year: this is how the CEO rates 2020. “We have expanded in productivity and delivered a net profit 10 times higher than in 2019, a reflex of the NovoMundo.com transformation. Expectations are more optimistic in 2021, as we have kept the rate of investments despite economy and pandemic oscillations.”
The chain has kept investments, and, by the end of the year, it will renovate 100% of its stores. It also has plans of opening other 40 stores, tells the CEO. “The goal is to consolidate the brand as the most prepared for the new retail, with a clear distinctiveness, which is the full integration of sales channels. It’s the first chain to break the main barrier between physical and digital, which is the unification of prices and solutions.”
“We have expanded in productivity and delivered a net profit 10 times higher than in 2019.”
With consistent plans in operations and capital structure to maintain a cash reserve, the chain has two challenges for 2021. “The first one is to learn how to live with the new employee profile in stores and to keep them engaged and trained to deliver our vision. The second one is to communicate our new positioning and its benefits, creating an emotional and more intense link with our consumers. It’s our main goal”, explains the CEO.
In 2021, the major issues will persist, says the CEO. “If we adapt and solve so-called “new problems”, which includes serving not only the customer, but also society, the environment and shareholders, who demand a more holistic view of us, we will understand that our role is to go far beyond creating the conditions for the sale of items to occur. We no longer see ourselves only as retailers, but as real and complex problem solvers. The outlook is positive, although we still face a political and economic crisis.”
Last year, the CEO noted that the government’s release to access FGTS resources and emergency aid contributed significantly to the company’s significant growth in e-commerce and physical stores. “We believe that facilitating access to credit and the stability of inflation are fundamental points for the economy to remain dynamic and positive for the sector”, says Juliano.
“Our goal, still in 2021, is to increase the number of Telhanorte Já! Units, our convenience stores.”
This year, the company inaugurated Obra Já!, a branch of Saint-Gobain focused on the Cash and Carry business model. “Our goal, still in 2021, is to increase the number of Telhanorte Já! Units, our convenience stores. We continue to aim to complete the modernization of certain Tumelero units in Rio Grande do Sul and additionally invest in processes, tools and team training.”
Source: Eletrolar News Magazine #141