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Wal-Mart to open 115 new stores in China, shutter others

Updated: 2015-04-30 11:58
By Jack Freifelder in New York (China Daily USA)

Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retail outlet, is looking to increase its presence in China by opening 115 new stores over the course of the next three years, the company said.

Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan will be the main areas of focus for the new stores, which will increase Wal-Mart's presence in China by almost a third and create at least 30,000 jobs by 2017, according to Wal-Mart chief executive Doug McMillon.

Plans to spend 370 million yuan ($59.7 million) remodeling nearly 50 locations and launch a mobile app linking consumers with retail outlets are also in the works for the "near future", McMillon said.

"Our aim is to become an integral part of China's economic development," McMillon said Wednesday at a news conference in Beijing. "China is a key strategic market for Wal-Mart. Over the next three years we will increase investment, build new stores, bolster our capacity for e-commerce and continue to build on strong partnerships with our Chinese suppliers."

With the new additions, the total number of outlets in China will reach nearly 530 by 2017.

China is a "growing market" that Wal-Mart is attempting to show its commitment to with these recent moves, according to John Lawrence, a managing director with Stephens Inc, an Arkansas-based financial services firm.

The news comes on the heels of a fourth quarter that saw Wal-Mart net sales in China decline by 0.7 percent, while comparable same-store sales dipped 2.3 percent.

The company said sales in China have been affected by slower economic growth for the country as a whole and changing consumer trends, especially the shift to online shopping.

Wal-Mart hopes to boost its role in China's growing e-commerce market by cultivating its relationship with expanding online grocer Yihaodian (YHD).

Founded in 2008, YHD is an online business-to-consumer e-commerce grocery website that provides same-day and second-day delivery in more than 100 Chinese cities and turns over its entire inventory in 18 days, according to company officials.

"Building the fulfillment network for fast-moving consumer goods is the hardest network to build, and that is what Yihaodian has done," said Dan Toporek, a spokesman for Wal-Mart's global e-commerce office.

"We now have more than 2,000 people in Silicon Valley building technologies in e-commerce and mobile," he added.

Scott Price, head of Wal-Mart's Asia operations, said the retailer would close an unspecified number of poorly performing stores after shutting 29 outlets in China last year.

Reuters contributed to this report.

jackfreifelder@chinadailyusa.com

 

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