Solid fundamentals and help Colombia’s largest retailer face the growing slowdown.
BY JOACHIM BAMRUD
MEDELLIN – It has come a long way from its origins 60 years ago – a 4 square meter store in Medellin selling discounted textiles. Almacenes Exito is now the largest retailer in Colombia, with sales of $3.2 billion and 264 outlets. “Today 70 percent of sales come from food and beverage and we’re the company with the largest billings in Colombia,” says Exito president Gonzalo Restrepo during an interview at the company’s headquarters here.
Most of the outlets are either hipermercados (mega-stores) using the Exito or Vivero brands or supermarkets using the Carulla or Pomona brands. Exito also operates smaller stores using the Bodega or Bodega Surtimax brands. Last year, Exito opened ten new outlets, closed three and rebranded 28. Exito also operates in Venezuela and owns 28 percent of Venezuelan retailer Cativen. “I go [to Venezuela] every two months,” Restrepo says.
And Exito boasts the country’s largest online retailer, exito.com, according to Alexa statistics referred to by the firm. Knowing that transport costs is an issue, Exito offers a wide range of services within their stores such as banking, insurance and travel. It has issued more than 1.2 million Exito credit cards, which enable poorer segments of the population to shop at the store on credit. “This business generates a lot of revenue,” Restrepo says.
However, Exito doesn’t compete with the local corner store, he points out. “The small store is very good,” he says. “The know people personally and we respect them because they do a good job.”
Keywords: Carrefour, Carulla-Vivero, Casino, Makro, PC sales, Sears, Venezuela, Wal-Mart