The billionaire retailer whose shops had no stock

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The BBC’s weekly The Boss series profiles different business leaders from around the world. This week we speak to Brazilian retail billionaire Luiza Trajano.

With inflation hitting a whopping 3,000%, and new currencies being introduced and then quickly ditched, it was not easy to be a retailer in the Brazil of the early 1990s.

That was the tough economic backdrop faced by Luiza Trajano, then 40, when she took up the top job at her family’s chain of shops selling home electronics and household appliances in 1991.

The business, called Magazine Luiza, had a small chain in the southern state of Sao Paulo. But Luiza had ambitious plans to expand nationwide. And she had a cunning plan.

With inflation that high, and the Brazilian government introducing and then abandoning no less than four different currencies between 1989 and 1994, it would have been risky to start opening more large stores stocking the entire range of products.

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