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FAMSA buys retailer La Canasta

Mexican firm now has 37 stores

CORONA, Calif. — Monterrey, Mexico-based chain FAMSA has acquired the 12-store La Canasta here, further expanding its U.S. presence.

The publicly held, credit-oriented retailer bought La Canasta’s operations — including nine California stores and three in the Houston area — for $37 million from Javier Rodriguez, said Arturo Prestamo, FAMSA investor relations director.

The acquisition gives the retailer 37 stores in California, Texas and Nevada. There are plans to open eight more units by the end of the year, including FAMSA’s first store in the Phoenix area, said Prestamo.

All stores target the U.S. Hispanic population. About 12.8% of U.S. sales fall under the retailer’s FAMSA to FAMSA program, in which U.S. consumers buy furniture and other goods to deliver to relatives in Mexico.

Prestamo would not disclose sales projections, but said FAMSA ended last year with 346 stores — including 24 in the United States — and total revenues of about $1.1 billion.

The U.S. stores accounted for 14.2% of revenues, with furniture, bedding and accessories representing about 60% of sales, he estimated.

That would make FAMSA’s U.S. operations a Top 100 player, with 2006 furniture, bedding and accessory sales of about $93.7 million and total revenues of $156.2 million.

Going forward, FAMSA plans to open about 10 stores a year in the United States, targeting new and existing markets with large Hispanic populations, Prestamo said.

"We feel there are a lot of synergies that could add value to our U.S. operations," he said, including advertising and logistics savings.

FAMSA, which entered the United States just six years ago, also will capitalize on La Canasta’s 25-year-old name and reputation. The Texas stores will immediately be converted to FAMSA, but the California conversion will be a more gradual process over a few months, he said.

There is some overlap between FAMSA and three La Canasta stores. While FAMSA is still evaluating the situation, it is likely to keep all 12 La Canasta stores open, Prestamo said.

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