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Wal-Mart Touts Expansion

Fayetteville, Ark., Wal-Mart Stores on Friday said it was committed to U.S. expansion and was on track to meet its goal of 270 to 280 new supercenters this year, including seven more in California, where many communities have tried to block Wal-Mart Stores.

“All of our new stores are doing very well,” said John Menzer, vice chairman and head of U.S. operations for Wal-Mart, during an analyst meeting following the chain’s annual shareholder meeting. “We have now approved 1,400 stores in our pipeline for future expansion.”

Menzer also said that Wal-Mart is now designing its stores to reflect the unique characteristics of different markets. Both the merchandise mix and interior design will be tailored to five shopper categories: suburban affluent, rural, boomers, urban/multicultural and Hispanic. A plan for rolling out the tailored program will be set next year.

In addition, Wal-Mart’s long-standing policy of cannibalizing store sales by opening additional units in still-developing markets is falling by the wayside as the chain focuses on balancing growth with return on invested capital.

“If we saw that a market had a three-store potential, we wouldn’t hesitate to open store three, even though store one would get hit by 20%, and store two would get hit by 20%,” Menzer said. “We are now waiting on that third store.”

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