Retailers are still keen to expand internationally despite the recession, although most are focusing on the more mature Western European markets to limit risk.

Germany topped the rankings of top destinations retailers want to expand into in 2010, with 47% of retailers targeting it, according to How Active are Retailers in EMEA? – a global study conducted by property agency CB Richard Ellis.

Western European countries dominated the rankings. Seven of the 10 most popular destinations are in the region. 44% of respondents will target France, 36% Spain, 34% Poland and 33% Italy.

The UK came seventh, which CBRE’s head of EMEA cross border retail Peter Gold said was “not surprising”. He said that there are more international retailers represented in the UK than anywhere else, so it is no surprise that other markets are higher on retailers’ lists. “Also, the UK is very competitive so people are wary of it, and the costs of occupancy are higher,” he added.

Gold said because of economic conditions, retailers are adopting a more cautious approach to expansion. “There’s a far greater level of due diligence being done to ensure the location is sustainable in the long term. Retailers want to be in places that are strong, proven markets.”

The report revealed 56 countries have been identified as expansion targets by the 200 retailers actively looking to acquire stores next year.

Of the retailers wanting to expand, 36.5% are aiming for more than 10 overseas stores by the end of 2010 and 12.5% want at least 40.

The survey, released yesterday at global property conference Mapic, revealed that grocers have the most aggressive expansion plans. More than 40% would like to acquire over 30 stores by the end of 2010.

Gold attributed this to the fact that land prices are “more reasonable today”, and highlighted that being “first to market remains the overriding objective” for grocers.