In the early 80's, the town of Balsas in the Brazilian northeastern state of Maranhão, located some 800 km to the capital city of São Luís, had been going through a major shift in both its economy and landscape. Upon the pavimentation of roads around Balsas, allowing the town to gain access to the Belém-Brasilia rout, migrants from a number of regions in the country had come to know that Balsas was a perfect place for mechanized agriculture, once it presented all the ideal climate and geographic conditions. Along with this growing and promissing boost in agribusiness in the southern part of the state, there came the need for supplying a wide range of consumer goods whose soaring demand the local market had been unable to meet.
With his proven entrepreneurial vision and his faith in innovation as a key factor to success, Mr. Ilson Mateus did not think twice: he sold away his belongings and, even though being unexperienced in business matters, set up a modest grocery shop in the small but rather promissing town. At the time, Mr Ilson would drive himself his old truck, bringing goods purchased in the town of Imperatriz, around 400 km northwest, to sell them in Balsas. Hard work and perseverance made his dream come true: in a short period of time, the small grocery shop had turned into a supermarket, although modest in size.
In 1986, desperate unsuccessful governamental measures aimed at curbing hyperinflation made Brazilian economy go through severe changes. Whilst most business owners resorted to financial speculation, the then young entrepeneur kept focusing on doing his job based on efficiently buying and selling and made an ally out of the crisis. Purchasing on credit from major suppliers and selling on cash to his customers allowed him to reinvest his revenues in strategic inventory, hiring and training of workers as well as in aggressive marketing and sales actions.
"Don't find fault, find a remedy.”
The result could not have been better: the first step had been taken towards the wholesale market in the region and he started to gradually estabilish himself as a prominent creator of businesses, jobs and income for the entire region around Balsas. He soon started to supply goods to grocery stores and supermarkets throughout the states of Maranhão and Pará.
But his taste for the retail sector stood out and efforts were made towards opening a huge and modern supermarket in Balsas in 2.000 with a sales area of 5,000 square meters.
An ambicious but realistic expansion plan was then designed aiming at covering the whole state of Maranhão and it was put to practice by opening supermarkets in towns and cities with great potencial, such as Imperatriz in 2000, Santa Inês in 2002 and then, in the capital of the state, São Luís, in 2003.
TODAY AND TOMORROW
Today, the Mateus Group is a conglomerate of companies with operations in, in addition to the supermarket and cash & carry sector, home appliances, furniture, electronic devices, bread manufacturing, medicine distributorship and construction, besides selling wholesale to corporate customers in a number of other states across the northern and northeastern regions of Brazil through Armazém Mateus.
As of 2020, the Mateus Group directly employs more than 24,000 people, has consolidated its brands as references to the market throughout the northern and northeastern regions of the country.
The Mateus Group is today the 6th largest food retail chain in Brazil and remains developing itselt in terms of infrastructure, logistics, technology and, above all, human resources. He believes in the potential of those who get heartfully envolved in their duties and, as a reward, get to win the challenges faced.
All of that has been accomplished while keeping his humility e honesty in all actions that strengthen his compromise towards social and economic development for the communities around.
New challenges and markets lie ahead, and along with them the assurance that the Mateus Group is eager to meet its customers' expectations and grow in efficiency, being present in the life of more and more Brazilians in a growing number of states.