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(Ian Ritter is national online editor for GlobeSt.com/RETAIL.)

MOORESVILLE, NC-Home-improvement retailer Lowe’s plans to enter Mexico in 2009, opening three to five stores in the city of Monterrey. Each store will represent an investment of $18 million to $20 million, according to the company.

This is the retailer’s second venture outside of the US. Lowe’s is in the works to open six to 10 units in Canada, in the Toronto metro area, this fall.

The company is not only expanding abroad; it has major domestic expansion plans as well. Lowe’s was set to open 155 stores here by the end of its current fiscal year and an additional 150 to 160 in 2007. The retailer currently operates about 1,375 units in 49 states.

Some larger US big-box stores that currently have units in Mexico include Costco, Lowe’s competitor Home Depot and Wal-Mart. Retail real estate developers are going south as well; New Hyde Park, NY-based Kimco Realty Corp. had 11 centers in the country as well as 11 under development as of the end of October.

In Lowe’s latest-reported quarter, which ended Nov. 3, management reported a same-stores sales drop of 4% year over year due to a slowing US housing market, among other factors. Total sales, up 5.8%, reached $11.2 billion, and net income rose 10.8%, to $716 million.

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