Walmart plans for retail rush

By Lan Lan (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-09-14 10:54
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TIANJIN - Walmart China is ready to capitalize on the nation's urbanization and emerging middle-class as the country becomes a major driving force for the world's largest retailer.

"China will experience rapid urbanization and see more emerging middle-class consumers in the next five to 10 years that will offer great potential for Walmart's development," Ed Chan, president and chief executive officer of Walmart China, told China Daily on the sideline of Summer Davos in Tianjin on Monday.

Walmart now has 191 stores in 103 cities in the country and plans to further expand in smaller and medium-sized cities, Chan said, without providing specific numbers.

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The retailing giant's optimism is borne out with statistics that show China's total retail sales increased 18.2 percent year-on-year to 9.7 trillion yuan ($1.44 trillion) in the first eight months of this year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

To meet its burgeoning needs, Walmart now has more than 50 farms nationwide from which it buys directly.

The program in cooperation with the ministries of commerce and agriculture will benefit more than 1 million farmers by the end of 2011, up from the current 500,000, said Chan.

"By then, we expect one third of the agricultural products sold in Walmart will come from farmers directly, which also will help to enhance food safety and sustainable agriculture," he added.

Global parent Walmart Stores Inc reported a 3.6 percent increase in second-quarter net income and raised its earnings guidance for the full year partly due to robust growth in emerging countries like China, Brazil and Mexico.