UPDATE 1-Mexican retailer Walmex considers selling restaurant business
MEXICO CITY, June 14 (Reuters) - Mexico's largest retailer Wal-Mart de Mexico said on Friday it has started looking into selling its Vips restaurant business as it seeks to shed non-core assets in the face of flagging sales.
The company said in a statement that the proposed sale, the first of its kind for the retailer, was at an early stage and there was no guarantee it would eventually go through.
Walmex, as the company is known, operates various restaurants including the Vips, El Porton, Ragazzi and La Finca chains. It is controlled by Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Last year, Vips represented just 1.7 percent of the company's revenues and 1.6 percent of its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), Walmex said.
Vips serves 79 million customers annually via its 364 restaurants, the company said. But between 2011 and 2012, the company opened just one additional Vips restaurant, according to Walmex's 2012 annual report.
Walmex announced it would spend up to $1.4 billion in investment this year, but in a break with tradition the company declined to say how many stores it plans to open.
Earlier this month, Walmex said its same-store sales for the month of May fell 2.4 percent, their second successive monthly decline.
The company is under investigation by authorities in the United States and Mexico over allegations that it bribed Mexican officials to speed up store openings.
The company's share price has fallen 14.3 percent this year, and was up 0.52 pesos at 36.48 pesos on Friday.