retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• Walmart said yesterday that 54 percent of its employees have opted into the company’s health insurance program, up from 52 percent a year ago. However, the company also said that the total number of Walmart employees who have any kind of health care dropped from 94 percent last year to 87 percent this year ... a shift that the company said it is trying to account for.

Walmart has come out in favor of federal legislation that would require big companies to provide health care, and it said the numbers indicate that the current health care system is not sustainable.

• The Financial Times reports that analysts at JPMorgan are saying that Walmart-owned Asda Group in the UK plans to open as many as 100 small format stores over the next three to five years, as well as opening 150 nonfood stores.

According to the story, “It is expected to put more emphasis on smaller format stores - although it will say this is not a convenience chain - online shopping, and utilising Walmart's buying power to cut costs.”

JPMorgan said Asda believes that three quarters of its future growth will come from smaller stores, online and non-food.
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