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Wal-Mart invests in growth

Bentonville, AR — At Wal-Mart's annual meeting this morning, Tom Schoewe, executive vp and cfo, said that the company's future growth will come from comp-store increases, the addition of new stores and clubs and acquisitions.

"We're investing in growth," he said, adding Wal-Mart has a 2003 capital plan of $10 billion. Currently at 516 million square feet, its store base will increase 9 percent this year, or 46 million square feet.

In the United States, Wal-Mart plans to add approximately 50 Wal-Mart stores and 180 to 185 Supercenters. Relocations or expansions of existing discount stores will account for 110 to 115 of the new Supercenters.

The Neighborhood Market format will expand by 15 to 20 new units this year. The Sam's Club division is scheduled to open 50 to 55 clubs, of which approximately half will be relocations or expansions. The warehouse club will also continue its remodeling program, with about 100 projects to be completed in fiscal 2003.

To support this expansion in the United States, Wal-Mart plans to build seven new distribution centers in the next fiscal year.

Internationally, the company is scheduled to open 120 to 130 units and will continue to remodel its Supercenter units in Germany. The international division amounted to 16.3 percent of total company sales in fiscal 2002.

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