Mexican retailer Comerci plans to invest US$180m in opening 17 new stores and restaurants this year.

Javier Miranda, deputy director of Comerci's treasury, said the company expects a steady rise in overall sales due to the expansion.

"For this year, we are seeing sales growth of between 6% and 7% in total stores and 1% in same-store sales," he told Reuters in an interview.  

Comerci, Mexico's third-largest retailer, invested $140m in 2003 in opening nine new stores, taking its total to 225 retail outlets and restaurants.

For 2003, Comerci reported a 4.9% increase in revenues to 34.96bn pesos (US$3.19bn), while same-store sales climbed 0.3%.