Luiza Helena Trajano, Chairman of the Administrative Council of the retail chain Magazine Luiza, was listed by the American magazine Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2021.
The text about the businesswoman in the magazine is signed by former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), who stated that Trajano “has taken on the challenge of building a giant retailer while building a better Brazil”.
“In the business world, still dominated by men, Brazilian Luiza Trajano managed to transform Magazine Luiza, which started as a one-stop shop in 1957, into a retail giant, worth tens of billions of dollars,” said the former president.
Trajano is the only Brazilian on the Time list. Last year, the magazine included President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) and YouTuber Felipe Neto among those chosen.
In the list, Magazine Luiza’s businesswoman was included in the list of “titans”, which also includes figures such as gymnast Simone Biles, businessman Tim Cook (Apple CEO) and American football player Tom Brady, married to the model Brazilian Gisele Bundchen.
At the end of August, Luiza Trajano had already been listed by Forbes as the second richest woman in Brazil, with a fortune valued at R$23.5 billion. The businesswoman was second only to Vicky Safra — R$ 37 billion —, widow of Joseph Safra and one of the controllers of Banco Safra.
Luiza Trajano & Magazine Luiza
Luiza Helena Trajano presided over the retail chain between 1991 and 2015. As of 2016, the company started to be headed by Frederico Trajano, her son.
The businesswoman inherited the command of her aunt, Luiza Trajano Donato, who founded Magazine Luiza alongside her husband, Pelegrino José Donato, in Franca, in the interior of São Paulo.
During the period in which he headed the chain, Luiza Helena Trajano expanded it outside the interior of São Paulo and the Triângulo Mineiro, acquired smaller retailers throughout Brazil and listed the company on the Stock Exchange.
On balance for the year 2020, Magazine Luiza reported operating 1,300 physical stores, spread over 21 states, in all regions of Brazil, in addition to more than 20 distribution centers.
In the same report, the company said that, in 2020, in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, it saw the network’s total sales grow 60% compared to 2019, reaching R$43.5 billion.
In the article about the businesswoman, the former president recalled that, when the covid-19 pandemic arrived in Brazil, Magazine Luiza “helped small businesses to adapt to digital commerce, providing a platform to sell and deliver their products”.
Lula also took advantage of the space to criticize President Bolsonaro’s government. “At a time when the Brazilian federal government minimized the risk posed by the pandemic, Luiza boldly spoke about the urgency of vaccination,” he pointed out.
In February, Luiza Trajano started to lead a group of businessmen under the “United for the Vaccine” movement, which aimed to speed up vaccination against covid-19 in Brazil.
During the vaccination campaign, the group began to focus on ensuring safe access for the population to doses of vaccines, offering freezers capable of storing immunizations to cities that were unable to purchase them.
Soon after the launch of the initiative, sectors of the PT began to air the possibility of Luiza Trajano entering as vice-president on a ticket with the former mayor of São Paulo Fernando Haddad (PT) or with Lula in the 2022 presidential elections.
At the time, Lula denied that he had any political talks with the businesswoman, and Luiza Trajano ruled out any electoral intentions for 2022. “I never wanted to be a myth,” said the former president of Magazine Luiza to O Globo newspaper.