Sam’s Club to Open Hispanic Format

Bentonville, Ark. Sam's Club announced Tuesday during the Wal-Mart Stores’ annual analyst conference that it plans to open a membership warehouse club that will feature an expanded assortment of imported products from Mexico. The new format, called Mas Club, will debut during the first half of 2009, in Houston.

“Mas Club will cater to the wants and needs of Hispanic families and entrepreneurs," said Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Sam's Club.” Our objective is to create an additional shopping choice that provides currently unavailable value for families, restaurant owners, convenience stores and more."

Mas Club will offer fresh produce and meats, and a unique selection of Hispanic foods and international brands, including beverages, spices and candy for both family use and small-business resale. The space will offer outdoor shopping and an event area, and the cafe will offer fresh-made tortillas. The Houston store also will have its own gas station, exclusive to Mas Club members.

Sam's Club said it is designing new signs and a Mas Club logo. It also said that existing Sam's Club members who want to shop at Mas Club will need to purchase a separate membership. The membership fees for the new club have not yet been determined.

In other news coming out of the Wal-Mart analysts meeting, Wal-Mart U.S. president and CEO Eduardo Castro-Wright said traffic at stores serving households with income above $65,000 has been growing much faster than at the chain as a whole, Reuters reported.

"What that means is we are seeing a lot of new customers that did not consider Wal-Mart before, that consider Wal-Mart now," Castro-Wright said.

Castro-Wright said the chain has seen dramatic improvement in its electronics department, where it has done extensive renovations, bringing in name-brand products and expanding space for shoppers to test out video games.

"We're going to increase investment behind remodels so that we can bring all of our fleet up to the same standard as fast as we can," Castro-Wright said.

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