(Recasts to show slowing pace of expansion, adds quote)
MONTERREY, March 18 (Reuters) - Wal-Mart de Mexico , the country’s biggest retailer, will expand more slowly this year, and instead focus on making sure new stores generate more money, Chief financial Officer Rafael Matute said on Wednesday.
Walmex has suffered in the past two years from an economic slump in the Mexican economy, forcing the company to sell assets and focus on its supermarket business.
“This year, 2015, will be a year of pause,” Walmex Chief Executive Officer Enrique Ostale said at an analysts’ meeting that was streamed online. “We’re looking for a greater return on our investments.”
The company will spend 12.4 billion pesos ($809.45 million) this year on maintenance and the expansion of its sales floors, Matute said at the meeting. He added the company would expand its total sales floor area by 2.4 percent.
Walmex, which is controlled by Wal-Mart Stores Inc, opened 132 outlets last year, and expanded its total shop floor area by 3.9 percent, down from the 4.4 percent originally expected.
Same-store sales fell 0.2 percent in Mexico last year, hurt by weak demand and tough competition.
The retailer reported a 40 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit last month.
Walmex shares were down 2.59 percent at 38.04 pesos in early afternoon trading.
$1 = 15.3190 pesos Reporting by Gabriela Lopez; Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Leslie Adler and Andre Grenon