By Anthony Esposito
SANTIAGO, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Chilean retailer Falabella is looking at options to grow more aggressively in the region, including the possibility of mergers and acquisitions, vice-president Carlo Solari told Reuters on Friday.
Falabella plans to invest $3.923 billion from 2013 to 2017 to double the number of stores and shopping malls it operates in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru.
"Obviously we're looking at organic and non-organic opportunities to grow," Solari said on the sidelines of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and European Union business summit. He declined to elaborate on the details of these opportunities.
Chilean retailers, such as Falabella and Cencosud, have been flexing their muscles across Latin America as domestic demand booms in much of the region.
Solari said he is confident that strong regional economic growth, low unemployment and rising wages will fuel consumption, something which will ultimately boost sales this year.
"The economy is doing really well, there are jobs throughout the region and real wages are rising, which impacts positively on consumption. In our case there are several countries where there's a lot of potential to grow," he said.
Falabella's sales grew 16.5 percent to 4.197 trillion pesos, or $8.92 billion, in the January to September 2012 period versus the same period a year ago. Solari declined to give an estimate for sales growth in 2013.
The economies of Latin America and the Caribbean will likely grow by a collective 3.8 percent in 2013, less than previously forecast, as slower growth in Mexico weighs against a recovery in Brazil, Argentina and the region's brisk domestic demand, the United Nations said last month.