Coronavirus: Giraffas owner talks about son’s shutdown due to Covid-19 controversy


With 400 units and 8,000 employees in Brazil, the cafeteria network Giraffes found himself in the midst of a crisis. Alexandre Guerra, a board member and former CEO of the company, he posted a video on the internet against the order of medical authorities asking for horizontal quarantine. “You who are an employee, who may be at home in a good, peaceful environment, enjoying this home office a little, this forced rest, have you realized that, instead of being afraid of catching this virus, you should also be afraid of losing your job? Is your company able to hold your salary for 60, 90 days? Have you thought about that? ”, He said on his Instagram account.

The effect was immediate. Giraffas started to be attacked on social networks. Carlos Guerra, Alexandre’s father, decided to immediately remove his son from the company and will buy his share on the net, which is 1%, as soon as the dust settles. In the following interview given to VEJA, Carlos Guerra speaks for the first time about the crisis:

Why did you decide to remove your son from the Giraffas board? Alexandre has a business called Nação Empreendedora, which works as an app for small business owners. He has always spoken out on points that he considers relevant. But the case now has come at a time of enormous sensitivity, people are on edge. There was an unwanted repercussion. Although he is no longer CEO, a position he held between 2013 and 2016, and is only a member of the board, the connection with Giraffas was inevitable.


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How did you hear about the video? By third parties. There were those who praised and those who cared about what he said. We published a note saying that we do not support this government or any party. Alexandre already disputed elections for governor of the Federal District in 2018, for Novo, when we made a mistake: it was to have done his removal so as not to have any connection with politics. Now, it was Alexandre who asked to leave, but we recognize that it was the best thing to be done for him and for the company.

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Can human life be minimized in the face of an economic recession? Of course not, no economic problem can be ahead of life. The savings are already in the hole, staying another week or two will not make a difference. Today, the goal is to save as many lives as possible. Each thing will have to be resolved in its moment, in its time. It is useless to send people to the street: we are all afraid. You need to have a statement from the WHO saying that it is now safe to leave home and that the health system is able to support the demand.

Alexandre Guerra, Carlos’ oldest son and owner of 1% of the restaurant chain: “enjoying the home office” Reproduction / VEJA

How do you evaluate CEOs and business owners like Madero and Havan who minimize the impact of the deaths caused by Covid-19? I don’t want to make a judgment about what they said, because I didn’t even see it. But those who minimize the number of lives due to the resumption … There are entities and people trained to speak about the horizontal quarantine: WHO, doctors, the Minister of Health. Those who do not pay attention to the authorities are irresponsibly trying to skip the stage.

What measure was adopted in the Giraffas network? When we saw that there would be a significant closure, we put 80% of employees and collaborators on paid collective vacations for 30 days. The rest, 20%, are working from home office. We gave franchisees the guidance to do the same: do not fire anyone. The company currently has 400 restaurants, half of which belong to franchisees. In all, there are 8,000 employees. The franchisor will not fire anyone for 90 days. We hope the government will do its part and help small restaurants. Here’s one thing: a restaurant’s greatest asset is its workforce. It takes a long time to train and empower. Dismissing is bad for business.

What role did your son play in the company? He was CEO of Giraffas between 2013 and 2016. Since then, he has served on the board, which meets every 15 days. My son had a 1% stake in the company. We agreed that he will sell me, but we have not yet agreed on values. He will have more freedom to perform the functions he likes without causing hassles.

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How was it to fire your own son from the company? He asked for it. In a way, I can handle things separately. Family is one thing, business is another. But it is clear that as it is difficult, but this exit needed to be made publicly.

How do you evaluate Brazil’s pre-coronavirus economy? Since the end of last year, there was already a certain disappointment with the result of the economy. Optimism took place at the beginning of the year with the release of small GDP. Giraffas had a great 2019 and remained above the target until February of this year. Now, we are facing uncertainties that I, Brazil and the world have never been through. The government must intervene to minimize. The liberal booklet of the Chicago school by Paulo Guedes is of no use now.

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