Tuesday 7 February 2023

Walmart and Gessa ask Coprocom to revoke blockade of purchase

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7 February 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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Walmart and the Grupo Empresarial de Supermercados S. A. (Gessa) filed, separately, an appeal to the Comisión para la Promoción de la Competencia (Coprocom) – anticompetition commission – to allow Walmart’s purchase of Perimercados, Súper Compro and Saretto supermarkets.

The filing was made on Monday in response to Corprcom’s decision to block the sale, saying that it will affect prices and reduce competition.

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Walmart and Gessa reached an agreement in July, whereby Walmart would purchase the 52 stores owned and operated by Gessa and would be added to its Másxmenos, Maxi Palí and Palí chain of supermarkets.

During the last 13 years, Walmart has reaped small and big victories in its conquest of the Central American market.

However, denying it the purchase of the Gessa chain may put the brakes to Walmart’s accelerated expansion in Costa Rica, an expansion announced in 2017 to double the number of stores in the country.

Walmart ‘s goal is to have in the country 200 points of sale by 2023.

The Conquest

The first step that Walmart made in Central America dates back to September 2005, when Walmart Stores obtained 33% of the American Retail Holding Company (Carhco) group, which was made up of the Corporación de Supermercados Unidos (CSU) and Guatemala’s Grupo Fragua.

A year later, Walmart Stores increased its stake in Carhco to 51% and formally changed its name to Walmart Central America.

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At the end of 2009, Walmart Mexico bought 100% of Walmart Central America’s operations, with 51% belonging to Walmart Stores Inc., and the remaining 49% to the local partners of CSU (Costa Rica) and La Fragua (Guatemala).

During this process, the Hipermás big box store brand, created by CSU, was replaced with the Walmart brand and the strong investment in more stores.

Currently, Walmart operates 7210 stores in Central America – Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica – generating close to 35,000 direct jobs.

The brands include Walmart, Despensa Familiar, Pali, Maxi Despenssa, Maxi Pali, Paiz, Paiz, La Despensa de Don Juan, La Unión and Másxmenos.

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