May 10, 2019 / 1:29 PM / 2 months ago

Brazil's Lojas Americanas to accelerate investments this year, eyes 224 new stores-CFO

SAO PAULO, May 10 (Reuters) - Brazilian retailer Lojas Americanas should accelerate investments in the next quarters to fulfill a previously announced plan to double the number of stores between 2015 and 2019, Chief Financial Officer Carlos Padilha said on Friday.

"To reach the target of 800 new stores between 2015 and 2019 we have to open 224 this year", Padilha told Reuters in an interview, adding that at least 40 of them will be convenience stores.

On May 2, Reuters reported that Lojas Americanas was among five groups bidding to operate convenience stores in gas stations run by Petrobras Distribuidora SA, the largest fuel distributor in Brazil.

Padilha said the 40 new convenience stores planned for 2019 will be fully operated by Lojas Americanas, but the retailer is currently studying a franchise model for the format. "We have a team fully dedicated to it, and the study is in advanced stage", he added.

In the first quarter, the company invested 207.7 million reais ($52.66 million), mostly in renovations and 15 store openings. Lojas Americanas has a total of 1,501 stores in 603 cities across Brazil, but its operations are not limited to brick-and-mortar outlets.

The retailer has a 62% stake in B2W Companhia Digital SA , Brazil's largest e-commerce firm by revenue, which operates under the brands Submarino, Americanas.com, Sou Barato and Shoptime.

Padilha also said that Lojas Americanas, which swung to a loss of 53.5 million reais ($13.56 million) in the first quarter due to a less favorable calendar, expects stronger results in the second quarter.

"Easter is the third most important event in our calendar and this year it slipped into the second quarter", he explained.

Analysts at BTG Pactual said in a report on Friday that future prospects for Lojas Americanas are brighter, particularly in the second quarter, but the market should take a while to incorporate this into the share price.

Shares in Lojas Americanas were trading 2 percent down at 15.40 reais, bringing the decline so far this year to almost 20 percent. ($1 = 3.9445 reais) (Reporting by Gabriela Mello; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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