Austrian unlisted supermarket chain Spar has said that its 2002 global sales rose 5.6% to €26.6bn (US$31.1m), adding that it expects similar growth in 2003.

Spar, which is holding its annual international congress in Budapest this week, said it planned continued expansion, with new stores in Singapore and Brazil, and is also exploring the potential opening of stores in Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania.

"I believe our 2003 sales will grow by nearly 6%," Spar International executive chairman Gordon Campbell told Reuters.

Spar's Hungarian unit reported 2002 sales up 9.3% to 115.3m forints (US$0.55m) and said it expected sales to increase to 140m forints in 2003.