Justice decrees bankruptcy of the Vending Machine, which will appeal the decision

THE vending machineout of the blue Ricardo Eletro, had its bankruptcy decreed by the Paulista Court. According to the current president and controller of Máquina de Vendas, Pedro Bianchi, the decision was a “very big surprise”. “The judge made this decision without listening to anyone. No creditor filed for our bankruptcy and the trustee does not want us to go bankrupt,” said Bianchi, who took over the business after working at a company that was trying to reverse the company’s bad financial situation.

O Estadão spoke with a creditor of the company who stated that, at least for now, there is no intention of filing for bankruptcy of the company, although there is concern that the business, one day, will be able to honor its commitments. Therefore, there are ongoing collection and enforcement actions for guarantees. The business debt is billions and only the Bradesco it’s the Santander concentrate around R$ 2 billion in debt securities (debentures).

According to Bianchi, none of the 17,000 creditors filed for bankruptcy for the company, which continues with plans to resume operations in the coming weeks. The company, which at one time had 1,200 stores and had a turnover of R$9.5 billion, rivaling giants such as Bahia houses, Point and Magazine Luizatoday it is a site with few products and revenue close to zero, as shown by a report by Estadão at the end of April.

No economic viability

In the process that carried out the bankruptcy of the retailer, the judge ruled that the Vending Machine is no longer economically viable and that there was an asset emptying of the operation, especially after the closing of the stores during the pandemic period.

According to Bianchi, these arguments do not hold. “It is not the judge who has to define whether the company is economically viable or not, but the creditors. And regarding the asset emptying, what happened was that, after the closing of the stores, we wrote off the remaining stock and went consuming for the operation. But the company didn’t deviate anything, because it was all for the operation and the current expense”, says the businessman.

According to the businessman, Máquina de Vendas has already filed an injunction against the decision and expects it to be accepted by this Friday, 10th. He adds that the plans to put Ricardo Eletro’s online operation on the air continue at the same pace: the site sold around R$30,000 a day again, even before its relaunch, which should take place next week.

“The company’s salary and social charges are up to date and we already have 30,000 new products uploading to the site”, he says. Bianchi’s expectation is that the Sales Machine will again have gross sales of R$ 120 million per month by the end of the year.

The businessman also claims that if the injunction is not granted, the Sales Machine will appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice (STJ). “But we have good expectations of the injunction being accepted and there are creditors who are already going to file an appeal supporting us. The judge surprised everyone”, he says.

History

After reaching R$9.5 billion in revenue in 2014, the company entered a period of difficulties that coincided with Brazil’s economic recession. In 2018 came extrajudicial recovery – thanks to billions in borrowing from banks and suppliers – and the promise that things would change. It was at this time that Bianchi, then a partner in the Starboard fund, took charge of the company.

The pandemic complicated the scenario of the already battered Sales Machine, which decided to close all stores. Result: the company’s revenue dwindled, from R$180 million monthly in 2019 to practically zero. To complete, for tax debts, Ricardo Nunes was arrested in 2020, accused of evasion, but spent only one day in jail. Bianchi bought Nunes’ stake in Máquina de Vendas, and the former owner left for the life of a “coach”.

During the pandemic, Bianchi decided to step down from his role at Starboard to fully focus on the Vending Machine. With that, his main mission was to renegotiate all the company’s debts, which reach R$4 billion, in addition to another R$1 billion in tax arrears. The result of all this was that the company had to go into judicial recovery.

More recently, with Pedro in full control of Máquina de Vendas, the company underwent a total restructuring. From 28,000 employees at its peak, it reduced the operation to 40 people. It also changed the e-commerce system to a technology from Vtex, with the hope that online sales could represent the beginning of the company’s recovery. The idea is even to resume the operation of physical stores in 2023.

For the entrepreneur, the plans continue even with the bankruptcy decision decreed by the judge. “Everything remains in the plans. Here it is unstoppable”, he says. / Collaborated with Fernando Scheller