Falabella's regional expansion drives profit rise
SANTIAGO, March 5 (Reuters) - Chilean retail group Falabella reported a 15 percent rise in fourth quarter profit as its fast pace of expansion in South America continued despite slowing growth in much of the region. Falabella, Chile's largest listed company by market cap with operations in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Colombia, said late on Tuesday that net income was 168 billion Chilean pesos ($300 million) in the three months to end-December. That was broadly in line with market forecasts and compared to profit of 146 billion pesos for the final quarter a year ago. Revenues rose 16 percent to around $3.8 billion. New store openings and the consolidation of a home improvement acquisition in Brazil boosted sales, the company said. "The higher sales in this period are explained by an increased retail space over the last year, including the acquisition of Construdecor in Brazil, as well as positive growth from retail operations. The performance of Colombia is also noteworthy," said Falabella alongside results. During the final quarter, Falabella opened three malls in Chile and one in Peru, plus 17 new department stores. None of the expansion was in Argentina, where margins have been under pressure. Inflation in Argentina was unofficially estimated at over 25 percent last year. Falabella, which dates from the 1880s, has branched out into home improvement, supermarkets, banking and travel agencies, in addition to its core department store operation.
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