UPDATE 1-Brazil's GPA posts 9.5% rise in Q3 gross sales led by Assai wholesale unit

(Adds details and share performance)

SAO PAULO, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Brazilian supermarket chain Grupo Pão de Açúcar SA on Wednesday reported its total gross sales grew 9.5% to 14.57 billion reais ($3.49 billion) in the third quarter as double-digit growth in wholesale unit Assai compensated for flat performance in its other segments.

GPA, owned by France’s Casino Guichard Perrachon SA , said Assai’s quarterly gross sales rose 18.9% to 7.587 billion reais. On a like-for-like basis, excluding calendar effects, the wholesale unit reported 3.2% growth year-on-year.

In the division comprised of Pão de Açúcar, Extra and Compre Bem stores in different formats, known as “multivarejo”, gross sales hit 6.982 billion reais in quarter ended on September 30, up 0.8% from the same period in 2018.

The unit’ same-store gross sales without seasonal effects grew only 0.3% in the same comparison, reflecting lower food inflation in the period and a sluggish economic scenario with still high unemployment rates.

GPA said e-commerce sales grew above 30% in the third-quarter, mostly underpinned by the integration of its online platform and brick-and-mortar stores, with its delivery express and click & collect programs now present in over 100 stores.

The retailer also cited positive prospects for the upcoming fourth-quarter with the expected approval of key economic reforms and the release of workers’ fund as part of a government stimulus package to foster economic recovery.

GPA’ shares were trading 0.86% up on Wednesday in Sao Paulo stock exchange at 82.28 reais, accumulating gains of less than 3% so far this year.

$1 = 4.1740 reais Reporting by Gabriela Mello; editing by Jason Neely and David Gregorio

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