SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian supermarket chain Grupo Pão de Açúcar SA on Wednesday posted first-quarter sales up 12 percent from a year ago, closing the gap on Carrefour Brasil, the market leader in Latin America’s largest economy.

GPA, which is owned by France’s Casino Guichard Perrachon SA, reported gross revenues of 13.8 billion reais ($3.46 billion), driven by gains in its wholesale division, Assaí.

On Tuesday, Carrefour Brasil posted a 10 percent increase in gross sales to 14.2 billion reais, as growth in its wholesale unit Atacadão more than compensated for a flat performance in the retail division.

In recent quarters, the wholesale format – where consumers can buy discounted goods directly in a warehouse setting – has gained popularity amid the slow recovery