Exito CEO Upbeat About Uruguay Grocery Acquisition

Patrick Archer foreign investment, uruguay

Two months after Colombia’s largest retailer announced plans for the purchase of the largest grocery chain in Uruguay, Dinero.com checks in with Grupo Exito CEO Gonzalo Restrepo to put the deal in perspective.

In an interview with Dario Lopez, Restrepo shoots straight on the acquisition, the appeal of Uruguay and Exito’s plans for expansion in other corners of Latin America.

Regarding the purchase of 53 Disco, Devoto and Geant groceries in Uruguay, Restrepo says anytime you can buy the leading retailer in a given country and that company is twice as large as its nearest competitor, you do that deal. The roughly US$750 million acquisition represents a critical first step in Exito’s shareholder-approved international expansion.

From an acquisition standpoint, Restrepo describes Uruguay’s very appealing combination of a small population made up of consumers with the highest purchasing power in Latin America. He also cites the rapid rise of consumer spending in Uruguay and the country’s macroeconomic growth and stable institutions as key factors in the purchase decision.

In terms of future Latin American expansion, Restrepo won’t name any countries he finds appealing, but he is quick to point to three that are not on his retail radar: Brazil and Chile are too saturated with well entrenched competitors and Venezuela is, well, Venezuela. “We have already been there,” says Restrepo, “and we aren’t looking at Venezuela right now.” (Full Story in Spanish)

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