Chilean retailer Falabella to invest 500 million dollars this year

SANTIAGO (Reuters) -Chilean retailer Falabella plans to invest $508 million in 2024, with more than half the sum destined for store openings and remodeling, and other expenditures for e-commerce and digital banking and logistics, the firm said on Tuesday.

The planned spending for this year will mark a 24% drop from the year before, the company noted in a statement.

The lower spending is part of Falabella’s goal to strengthen its finances, according to interim CEO Alejandro Gonzalez. The plan targets investments “for better profitability,” he said in the statement.

The cuts do “not come as a surprise,” analysts at J.P. Morgan said in a note, adding “the lower investments reflect (the) company’s rhetoric of efficiency and savings in light of its challenging leverage situation.”

Fitch Ratings said in November it expected Falabella’s leverage to remain above 6x in 2024 and reach low 5x in 2025 as it downgraded the firm’s debt to junk status.

In a bid to deleverage, Falabella has said it will sell off assets, mainly real estate, for $800 million to $1 billion.

This year, the retailer will spend $270 million on store openings and renovations, with $113 million going to expanding stores in Chile, Peru, Mexico and Colombia.

Specifically, Falabella will open two new IKEA stores in Colombia, as well as another five home-improvement stores, two supermarkets and one department store across its markets, it added.

Another $200 million will go to strengthening e-commerce technology in the Andes, and improving its digital banking services.

Falabella will also spend $38 million on logistics, specifically targeting inventory management, it said.

(Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Additional reporting by Kylie Madry; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Michael Perry)