SAO PAULO – Samuel Klein, the Polish-born founder of Brazil's largest home-appliance retailer, has died, the company said in a statement. He was 91.
Casas Bahia said Klein died Thursday at Sao Paulo's Albert Einstein Hospital where he was undergoing treatment for the past two weeks. It did not give the cause of death, but a hospital official told reporters he died of respiratory failure.
Born in 1923 in a village near Lublin, Klein was one of nine children born to a Jewish family taken by the Nazis to the Treblinka concentration camp. He, his father and one brother survived. His mother and other siblings perished in Treblinka.
He survived two years at the Majdanek concentration camp in Lublin from where he escaped in 1944.
After a few years living in Germany, he arrived in Brazil in 1952 and settled in the Sao Paulo industrial suburb of Sao Caetano where he sold clothing door-to-door, allowing customers to pay for merchandise in monthly installments.
He founded his first home-appliance store in 1957 and called it Casas Bahia because most of his customers were workers from that northeastern state working in Brazil's biggest city.
There are more than 500 Casas Bahia stores in 13 states throughout Brazil.