Rewe, the Germany-based retailer, said it plans to open 260 stores across its domestic market this year.

A spokesperson for the company told just-food it plans to open 160 of its Penny discount stores and 100 of its Rewe supermarket stores across the country.

"Rewe Group's overall investment in 2009 will be around EUR1.6bn (US$2.09bn)," the spokesperson said, but declined to state how much of this is for the expansion.

Earlier this year the retailer revamped the way it organises its businesses outside its domestic market and created a single unit to oversee its operations in Italy, Austria and Eastern Europe.

Frank Hensel was appointed CEO of Rewe International, which has been set up to create a "leaner" business outside Germany.

The company also announced plans to take its Penny discount business into Bulgaria with the opening of its first Penny outlet in the Eastern European country by the end of the year.

Rewe already operates a chain of Billa supermarkets in Bulgaria.