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(Corrects to attribute quote to Philip Behn, not Todd Harbaugh, in 7th paragraph.)
By Dan Freed
MEXICO CITY, March 14 (Reuters) - Wal-Mart de Mexico , Mexico's biggest retailer, plans to increase spending by nearly 19 percent in 2017, upgrading and adding new stores and investing in e-commerce, a top executive said on Tuesday.
Walmex, as the company is known, will spend 17 billion pesos ($864.80 million) in 2017, above the 14.3 billion pesos they spent last year, Chief Financial Officer Pedro Farah told investors during a company presentation.
Walmex continues to see opportunities to add stores and has become more efficient with its construction projects, according to Gaston Wainstein, Walmex head of real estate.
However, Central America head Carlos Arroyo said the region is not growing as quickly as the company would like, which is limiting the number of stores it is prepared to build there.
Walmex also said it is paying 35 percent more in bonuses to its low-level employees this year than it did a year ago. It also plans to open a second meat-cutting plant in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, executives said on Tuesday.
Executives from the retailer, controlled by Wal-Mart Stores Inc, repeatedly emphasized investments in e-commerce.
"We don't think e-commerce is a loss leader," said Philip Behn, Walmex's head of eCommerce, calling it a driver of growth, profit and capital efficiency. ($1 = 19.6577 Mexican pesos) (Reporting by Dan Freed in Mexico City; Editing by Leslie Adler)