The consistent growth of sales and profits in all our countries, business formats, and divisions made 2016 a year of positive results for our Company. This allows us to continue investing in buying solutions that are in line with the needs of our customers, developing operational enhancements, setting aside resources to build the future of our business, and compensating the confidence of our shareholders through the payment of dividends.
At the consolidated level, our total revenues amounted to 532.4 billion pesos, representing an 11.9% increase over the previous year and a reflection of the sound sales performance in all our self-service and membership warehouse club units throughout the six countries where we are present.
Our profit margins grew 50 basis points, from 21.6% in 2015 to 22.1% in 2016, as a percentage of revenues. These results are driven by operating efficiencies and are affected positively by a reclassification of certain supplier rebates for promotional activities, which in the past were reflected through expense reductions and the reclassification of factoring benefits.
Our expenses represented 14.6% of total revenues, a product of the operating efficiency that allows us to invest in the improvement of our current business and be better equipped to face the future, maintaining the same level of expenses as a percentage of revenues as that reported in 2015.
As a result of the previous points, our operating income totaled 39.5 billion pesos, a 20.2% increase over the previous year and which represents an expansion of 50 basis points as a percentage of revenues.
By the same token, our EBITDA amounted to 50.1 billion pesos, equaling an increase of 17.7% compared to 2015, some 9.4% as a percentage of revenues and 50 basis points higher than the levels reported last year.
The amount set aside for investments in fixed assets was 14.3 billion pesos, focusing primarily on remodeling and maintaining our store base, the opening of new units, and developing our logistics and technological capabilities.
The installed capacity of our Company increased by 1.9%, as a result of opening 92 new units, which in turn contributed an additional 1,497,258 square feet of sales floor and 1.8 percentage points to our consolidated sales growth.
We paid out 29.0 billion pesos in dividends for 2016, representing a total of 1.68 pesos per share, as follows: 0.14 pesos per share corresponds to the remaining ordinary dividend decreed in 2015 and paid this year; 0.56 pesos per share as ordinary dividend decreed this year, of which 0.14 pesos per share shall be paid in 2017; and 1.12 pesos per share as extraordinary dividend decreed and paid in 2016.
Our balance closed the year with 28.0 billion pesos in cash, a variation of 12.8% as compared to the close of 2015. This is the reflection of sound sales performance and expense management, allowing us to continue investing in the future growth of our business and paying dividends to our shareholders.
Total revenues for Mexico rose to 433.0 billion pesos, a 9.1% increase over the results for the previous year thanks to consistent sales growth in all our self-service formats and our membership warehouse club.
Our gross margin was 21.7% as a percentage of revenues, and an expansion of 40 basis points over 2015. This is a consequence of operating efficiencies and the accounting reclassification previously mentioned.
Our expenses underwent a reduction of 10 basis points as a percentage of revenues, resulting from initiatives focused on making our operation more efficient, offsetting all the investments made in our business, as stated before.
Operating income levels had considerable growth: 50 basis points as a percentage of revenues, 16.1% compared to 2015. This was possible due to sound sales growth and proper management of margins and expenses.
Therefore, EBITDA for Mexico came to 42.1 billion pesos, an increase of 13.9% over 2015, and 40 basis points higher, as a percentage of revenues.
Installed capacity in Mexico grew 1.6%, supported by the opening of 58 new units and 1,093,031 square feet in additional sales floor, thus contributing 1.2 percentage points to consolidated sales growth for the Company.
Total revenues for the region of Central America represented 19% of the consolidated revenues of 99.4 billion pesos, posting an increase of 25.6%, that is, 8.2% without exchange rate fluctuations, a product of favorable sales.
Our gross margin resulted in an expansion of 70 basis points as a percentage of revenues, which resulted from operating efficiencies and the reclassification described previously.
Expenses for the region were maintained at the same levels for the previous year, which was 17.7% as a percentage of sales. Therefore we keep working to improve expense control.
Operating income for this region continues displaying consistent growth. This year, it amounted to 5.8 billion pesos, an increase of 50.9%, or 30% on a constant currency basis.
The 42.8% growth in EBITDA represents 23% without exchange rate fluctuations, amounting to a total of 8.1 billion pesos for the region, a reflection of sound sales growth and good margin and expense management.
Installed capacity in Central America grew 4.3%, as a result of the opening of 34 new units and 404,228 square feet in additional sales floor, thus contributing 0.6 percentage points to consolidated sales growth.
We are a Company with a long-term horizon in investment, supported by on-going cash generation and our compliance with financial guidelines. This in turn provides access to resources that allow us to adjust our operating store base, expand our presence with new units, develop our logistics and technological platforms, compensate our shareholders with dividend payments, and comply with the corresponding tax obligations. In 2016, our cash generation reached record levels of 51.3 billion pesos.
Moreover, the soundness of our Company’s financial situation is reflected in a debt-free balance sheet and negative working capital because we continuously work to optimize inventory levels and accounts payable.