* Number of malls in Peru slated to double through 2015
* Retail sales to grow 20 percent this year
* About 75 percent of investment is outside the capital
Por Omar Mariluz
LIMA, April 26 Peru's fast-growing retail
sector, which is now dominated by Chilean companies, is drawing
the interest of global chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc
, industry sources say.
Peruvian retail sales are on track to grow 20 percent this
year to $6.9 billion, according to the consultancy Araval,
because of wider credit availability and an economy that is
forecast to grow 6 percent.
"Wal-Mart's interest in entering the Peruvian market remains
very strong," said a source in Lima who is close to the U.S.
company and requested anonymity. "Peru has space for more
players. There is plenty of capacity and potential."
Wal-Mart already owns a plot of land near Lima, Peru's
capital. It came with the company's purchase several years ago
of Chilean retailer Distribucion Y Servicios. D&S, as the
company is known, does not operate stores in Peru.
"The site was purchased by D&S prior to its acquisition in
2009 by Wal-Mart," a Wal-Mart official in Arkansas said by
email. "We have no immediate plans for its use."
The source said two factors may encourage Wal-Mart to come
to Peru: the continuing interest of the company's Chilean
shareholders, and a recent change in leadership at Wal-Mart in
Peru has been one of Latin America's fastest-growing
economies over the past decade. Like Chile and Mexico, it has a
free-trade agreement with the United States that protects
Wal-Mart already operates 3,668 stores in Brazil, Mexico,
Argentina, Chile, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador
and Costa Rica, according to the company.
"The main consideration for a chain like Wal-Mart is the
growth potential of the sector," said analyst Carlos Asmat of
Scotiabank in Peru.
The market penetration rate of retail stores is only about
15 percent in Peru, compared with 60 percent in Chile and
Brazil, industry analysts say. Many people buy their food and
clothes at traditional markets.
DOUBLING OF MALLS
Peru's association of shopping centers says a $1.5 billion
investment pipeline will double the number of malls in the
country to 100 through 2015.
Growing consumer demand has also driven retail operations to
expand into Peru's provinces, long ignored by businesses in the
Lima, with 9 million people, generates half of all economic
activity in Peru but is home to only a third of the country's
About 75 percent of new retail investments target areas
outside of the capital as swift economic growth pulls people out
of the poverty that afflicts a third of the population.
"Demand is huge in the provinces, but people still need to
come to Lima to buy things," said Gonzalo Ansola, a director at
ACCEP, Peru's association of shopping centers. "Investors have
finally realized this."
Cencosud, a large Chilean conglomerate that also
operates in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, recently opened one
of its Paris department stores in Peru's second-largest city,
Arequipa. It was the first opening of a Paris shop outside of
Cencosud and rival Ripley Fababella of Chile are
the dominant players in Peru, along with the supermarkets and
department stores owned by Peruvian financial group Intergroup
Analysts expect more double-digit growth in the retail
Growth "should be maintained for the next four years at this
rate," said Ernesto Aramburu, managing director of the Araval
consultancy. "Most people are only now becoming consumers."