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Wal-Mart Stores, already the world’s largest retailer, disclosed Tuesday that it has extremely ambitious growth plans for 2003, including:

  • The addition of eight percent more retail area, or 48 million square feet. The growth is even more than the then-record 46 million square feet in retail area being added during the current fiscal year.

  • The opening of about 45 to 55 new discount stores and 200 to 210 new supercenters. Relocations or expansions of existing discount stores will account for some 140 of the supercenter openings; the rest will be ground-up new buildings.

  • The announced opening of 20 to 25 Neighborhood Market stores and 40 to 45 Sam's Clubs in the US; two out of three Sam’s Club openings will be relocations or expansions.

  • Kevin Turner, the new Sam's Club president and CEO, confirmed that the division will focus more on catering to small businesses, and will have a less aggressive growth plan than the rest of the company.

  • Wal-Mart reportedly has begun negotiating with the French retail group Casino about the possible acquisition of Geant hypermarkets and Leader Price discount stores in Poland, a country where Wal-Mart does not yet have a presence.

KC's View:
We still believe, and this is backed up both by our sources as well as by a report from Retail Forward, that Wal-Mart’s most impactful move will be its Neighborhood Market roll-out, which will get the division up to as many as 500 units in just a few years.

All of a sudden, we’re going to look around and there are going to be one of these babies on almost every corner.