Spanish discount retailer Mercadona is considering making small acquisitions in Portugal, France and Italy in 2012.

A company official confirmed the chain will launch the expansion in two years time when Spain is widely expected to emerge from a deep recession.

Mercadona, which was recently ranked as Spain’s cheapest supermarket, was hoping to expand abroad this year or in 2011 but had to freeze those plans amid slumping sales in the domestic market, according to press reports.

The retailer could buy supermarket chains operating as many as 25-30 stores measuring between 1,200m2-1,500m2, Spanish press reported, though the official could not immediately confirm those details.

This year, Mercadona, which already operates 1,300 outlets in Spain, has invested some EUR600m to open as many as 60 new stores, mainly in the Catalonia region and in central Spain.

The company has also been growing through acquisitions this year. This week, it bought 80% of fish supplier Caladero and purchased snack supplier Ibersnacks earlier this year.