December 8, 2016 / 7:41 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil's GPA to keep investments steady in 2017, executives say

(Updates with details of operations, context)

SAO PAULO, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Brazilian retailer GPA SA , controlled by France’s Casino Guichard Perrachon SA , will hold investments steady even as the country’s retail sector returns to growth by the second half of next year, executives said on Thursday.

GPA will invest 1.6 billion reais ($473.1 million) in 2017, Chief Financial Officer Christophe Hidalgo said in a news conference, the same as 2016.

Instead, the retailer will sharpen its focus on cash-and-carry operations in a bid to return to profit after six straight quarters of losses.

GPA will convert between 15 to 20 Extra hypermarket stores into Assaí cash-and-carry stores next year, Chief Executive Officer Ronaldo Iabrudi said at the same conference, and open six new Assaí stores.

That would be the biggest increase in the number of Assaí stores since 2014.

The focus on cash-and-carry comes after revenue in the segment surged almost 46 percent last quarter, the best-ever quarterly performance.

GPA is also trying to sell its controlling stake in appliance retailer Via Varejo SA in order to concentrate on its food business.

The funds raised through that sale will be reinvested in GPA, Iabrudi said. ($1 = 3.3820 reais) (Reporting by Alberto Alerigi; Writing by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Alan Crosby)

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