German retailer Rewe is to invest EUR20m (US$25m) per year to 2016 in expanding its Billa supermarket network in Italy.

Rewe said the investment is designed to strengthen its presence in northern Italy, where the decline in consumer spending as a result of the economic crisis is felt less than in the south.

The retailer will open “medium” sized Billa stores with a selling space of approximately 800-1,000sq m, it said.

The investment will include a series of store openings and store refurbishments. Rewe, however, did not disclose a number.

Billa COO and sales director Andrea Colombo said the reputation of the banner in northern Italy has grown further in 2012, with customer traffic having increased by 5.9% for the year to the end of August, and sales up 3.5%.

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