French retailer Carrefour is planning to invest EUR260m (US$312m) next year in developing its operations in Brazil.

The French retail chain's investment programme will target the opening of 15 hypermarket outlets. Carrefour's managing director, Brazil, Jean-Marc Pueyo, has indicated that the group's sales in the country are expected to increase by 7% in 2005.

Brazil is Carrefour's biggest market in South America generating an annual turnover of around US$3bn and is followed by Argentina and Colombia.

In October, Carrefour announced plans to invest US$100m in Colombia in 2006. This will target the construction of hypermarkets and the modernisation of its supply system in the country.