December 5, 2018 / 8:19 PM / 14 days ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil's GPA plans to raise capex next year by 12.5 pct -CEO

(Adds details of the growth plan, startup partnerships)

By Gabriela Mello

SAO PAULO, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Brazilian retailer GPA SA plans to raise capital expenditures by 12.5 percent next year to 1.8 billion reais ($466 million), Chief Executive Officer Peter Esterman told reporters on Wednesday.

The retailer controlled by France’s Casino Guichard Perrachon SA will concentrate on expanding its wholesale brand Assai and resume growth of its premium brand Pao de Acucar. Estermann expects the Brazilian economy to pick up growth if the newly elected government is able to approve key macroeconomic reforms.

Estermann expects same-store sales to grow above inflation next year in all its retail formats. GPA’s capex next year will be its largest in the last decade and is similar to its top rival, the Brazilian unit of Carrefour SA.

The retailer expects to keep the high growth rate of its wholesale brand Assai, convert supermarkets to the brands Compre Bem and Mercado Extra and resume growth in its premium brand Pao de Acucar after two years. GPA plans to open 100 new Pao de Acucar stores over the next four years.

The food retailer is also investing to increase the area in which GPA delivers online food purchases, and increasing the development of apps and digital products.

GPA is discussing partnerships and potential deals with 30 startups. Earlier this month, the retailer announced a partnership with meal-kits app Cheftime that includes an option to acquire the app. ($1 = 3.8637 reais) (Reporting by Gabriela Mello; writing by Tatiana Bautzer Editing by Susan Thomas)

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