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SAO PAULO Jan 13 Same-store food sales at GPA
SA, Brazil's largest diversified retailer, rose in
the fourth quarter despite the country's harshest recession
ever, a sign that the company's efforts to bolster
cash-and-carry operations are bearing fruit.
Food sales at stores open for more than a year rose 7.7
percent, GPA said in a Friday securities filing. The main driver
of growth, the company said, was its Assaí cash-and-carry
division, whose same-store sales rose 17.3 percent.
Last year, same-store sales at GPA's food division grew 6.7
percent, supported by an 18.6 percent advance at the Assaí unit.
GPA, controlled by France's Casino Guichard Perrachon SA
, is increasing focus on cash-and-carry as consumers
spurn traditional supermarkets in search of lower prices.
Cash-and-carry retailers sell food and other goods in bulk, to
offer low prices.
This year, São Paulo-based GPA plans to open six Assaí
outlets and convert at least 15 Extra hypermarket stores to the
cash-and-carry format, with much of the expansion in
lower-income cities of northeastern Brazil.
The company's "operating turnaround momentum continues," UBS
Securities analysts led by Gustavo Pires Oliveira wrote in a
GPA's preferred shares rose as much as 1.8
percent to 60.39 reais, a two-month high, before trading
The retailer's appliances and furniture retail business, Via
Varejo SA, continued to struggle as unemployment and
low consumer confidence kept shoppers away. Same-store sales at
Via Varejo fell 1.7 percent last quarter and 1.9 percent in the
GPA said last year it would sell Via Varejo, reasoning that
its food business will recover faster from Brazil's recession
than will its the appliance operations.
($1 = 3.1805 reais)
(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Jason Neely and Steve