Discount supermarket chain Dia is to invest EUR1.2bn (US$1.445bn) to open 1,800 stores in Europe by 2009, elevating its global-store count to nearly 8,000, a company spokeswoman told just-food today (15 March).

Dia, part of French hypermarket retailer Carrefour, will open most new shops in Spain, France, Greece and Portugal. It will also roll out stores in Brazil, Argentina and China, the spokeswoman said.

This year, Dia will earmark EUR400m to open 600 stores and expand its global presence to 6,000 outlets. Half of the investment funds will go to Spain and the rest to other markets, the spokeswoman said. She added that Dia is also eyeing expansion in new undisclosed European markets.

Dia said it will finance the expansion with its own cash coffers, which the chain boosted with a 9.3% sales jump to EUR7.9bn last year. The company intends to achieve sales growth of 12%-14% in the next three years.

As part of the expansion, Dia will build two logistic centres in Miranda de Ebro and Jaen, Spain, which will initially supply the Spanish market, according to the spokeswoman.

Moreover, Dia intends to muscle its new Maxi Dia supermarket chain in Spain and in France. Maxi Dia stores are larger than the Dia banners’ and sell at lower prices.