(Updates with details of operations, context)
SAO PAULO Dec 8 Brazilian retailer GPA SA
, controlled by France's Casino Guichard Perrachon SA
, will hold investments steady even as the country's
retail sector returns to growth by the second half of next year,
executives said on Thursday.
GPA will invest 1.6 billion reais ($473.1 million) in 2017,
Chief Financial Officer Christophe Hidalgo said in a news
conference, the same as 2016.
Instead, the retailer will sharpen its focus on
cash-and-carry operations in a bid to return to profit after six
straight quarters of losses.
GPA will convert between 15 to 20 Extra hypermarket stores
into Assaí cash-and-carry stores next year, Chief Executive
Officer Ronaldo Iabrudi said at the same conference, and open
six new Assaí stores.
That would be the biggest increase in the number of Assaí
stores since 2014.
The focus on cash-and-carry comes after revenue in the
segment surged almost 46 percent last quarter, the best-ever
GPA is also trying to sell its controlling stake in
appliance retailer Via Varejo SA in order to
concentrate on its food business.
The funds raised through that sale will be reinvested in
GPA, Iabrudi said.
($1 = 3.3820 reais)
(Reporting by Alberto Alerigi; Writing by Bruno Federowski;
Editing by Daniel Flynn and Alan Crosby)