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International growth to lead Wal-Mart new store count

Chicago – While the United States remains far and away the major segment of its business, 2008 will see more new stores open internationally than at home, said Wal-Mart vice chairman and chief administrative officer John Menzer, speaking at the William Blair & Co. Growth Stock Conference here.

 

With some 7,000 stores and clubs operated by 1.9 million associates worldwide under 50 different banners, Menzer said that the store-opening pace internationally will, for the first time, be “on a par” with domestic growth.

 

Actually, while that was the plan last fall, under the revised plan Menzer outlined yesterday foreign growth will surpass domestic expansion. Between 230 and 260 Wal-Mart stores (supercenter, discount stores and neighborhood markets) and Sam’s clubs are slated to open in the United States next year, vs. 315 to 325 in other countries.

 

Menzer noted that international sales volume has attained a 27.4% compound annual growth rate over the past 7 years (excluding the discontinued operations in Germany and Korea). Annual volume from the 2,898 stores in 13 markets has reached $77 billion.

 

How home textiles fits into the picture was not addressed. The closest Menzer came to discussing this specific merchandising area was to note that the company is hopeful that back-to-school 2007 in the U.S. stores will produce a “slight improvement” in performance of the soft home and apparel categories.

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