MEXICO CITY , Mexico (FNS) -- Cifra, Mexico's largest retailer based here, isn't resting on its laurels.
While it may have achieved sales of $4.58 billion in 1993, a 15% gain against 1992, the company is continuing to cut costs at the expense of executive perks.
According to the company's annual report, Cifra executives no longer have company cars and their dining rooms have been shuttered.
All business luncheons and dinners -- considered corporate rituals in Mexico -- have been replaced by "working sessions at our offices," Jeronimo A. Arango, chairman, wrote in a letter to shareholders.
Magazine and newspaper subscriptions also have been restricted.
The moves are described as part of the company's effort to lower operating costs as a percentage of sales.
"The retailing business is, to an extent, a zero-sum game," Arango wrote. "The entrance of a new participant reduces the market share of the already existing ones. Many domestic and foreign companies are being drawn to Mexico's retail market. "Our company will not yield any of its current market share, but shall instead increase it," he said.
Last year Cifra added 35 units to its fleet of 229 stores, which include operations geared to both food and nonfood products. This number includes nine Wal-Mart Supercenters, Sam's Clubs and Club Aurreras it runs in a joint venture with Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark. Arango did not specify the number of stores scheduled to open this year under the joint venture, although the relationship has been expanded. Under an agreement announced in December, Cifra's Suburbia stores and its restaurant operation are now part of the venture.
Among the other details listed in the annual report:
Net profits in 1993 increased 2.1% to $333 million.
Productivity per employee rose 6% to $119,500.
The company invested $25 million in computer systems, modeled after those used by Wal-Mart, which Arango said allowed Cifra to further reduce costs by using well-proven technology.
Cifra paid $174 million for land to build 36 new stores and renovated 112 units, with the remaining units to be restored this year. Historically, Cifra has been the market-share leader in the populous Mexico City market, where it competes against two of the nation's other large chains, Grupo Gigante and Commercial Mexicana.
Cifra's market share is estimated at more than 35% in Mexico City compared with slightly more than 30% for Commercial.