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Wal-Mart May Boost Canadian Expansion

Toronto A Monday Bloomberg report suggested that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. may up the number of Canadian supercenters it opens in 2008.

According to a BMO Capital Markets analyst cited in the report, Wal-Mart may expand with 40 or 50 Canadian stores, with half being new supercenters and one-third from conversions of other sites to the larger format, by the end of January.

Analyst David Hartley, who sourced unidentified people in the “real estate world,” said the Wal-Mart expansion could put more pressure on grocers in Canada to reduce food prices.

Wal-Mart, however, has declined to comment on the report. “Consistent with prior years, our new real-estate projects will be in the neighborhood of about 27 stores," Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin Groh said. “Our focus is certainly supercenters.”

“The grocery battle in Canada may just be heating up,” analyst Hartley said in the report. “Wal-Mart's entrance into Canadian food retail with its supercenter format represents the most significant risk facing the large grocers in Canada.”

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