May 3, 2018 / 9:19 PM / a year ago

Brazil retailer Via Varejo explores new delivery options, eyes Uber deal

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s largest appliance retailer, Via Varejo SA VVAR11.SA, is expanding a partnership with the state-run postal service while exploring options such as using Uber transport apps to deliver goods, an executive told Reuters on Thursday.

The company’s delivery system already allows clients to pick up goods purchased at its Casas Bahia and Pontofrio stores or e-commerce platforms at 43 post office branches in 11 Brazilian states.

The number will rise to 540 branches this month and reach around 6,000 in up to four months, head of logistics Marcelo Lopes said in an interview.

Currently, customers may opt to take out merchandise from any of Via Varejo’s 982 physical stores nationwide, or from “lockers” strategically installed at gas stations in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city.

Via Varejo’s logistics strategy also includes introducing new modes of transportation, a plan aimed at reducing costs and time associated with deliveries to keep competitors at bay.

“In a maximum of two months we will be discussing new delivery formats, and I will be able to provide numbers related to the efficiency of bicycle and Uber deliveries,” Lopes said. The announcement of partnerships with urban transport services is “very close,” he said.

Efforts to accelerate Via Varejo’s integration of online and offline sales channels, and to win over clients, coincides with intensifying competition from rivals such as Inc (AMZN.O).

Reuters reported earlier this year is considering renting warehouse space in São Paulo state and is also in talks with Brazilian airline Azul SA (AZUL.N) to ship goods in Brazil.

Via Varejo units rose more than 13 percent this year.

Another focus is construction of small warehouses adjacent to physical shopping outlets, Lopes said. The company has built five so-called mini-hubs in the cities of Mauá, Brasília, Curitiba, Teresina and Cuiabá. The aim is having 70 such hubs by June and 220 by December nationwide, he said.

In São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, delivery times fell to 1 day from 2 after changes to its logistical strategy. In more remote cities like Piauí, delivery time fell to 2 days for 15, Lopes said.

Reporting by Gabriela Mello; Writing by Ana Mano; editing by Grant McCool

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