Wal-Mart plans to add hundreds of smaller stores in next three years

Bentonville, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, in a presentation at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference on Thursday, announced that it would open “hundreds” of smaller-format stores over the next three years.

According to Bill Simon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart U.S., the ramped-up development could be augmented by some acquisition activity, although he didn’t elaborate on specifics.

The retailer had said it planned to open 30 to 40 smaller units this year in rural and urban areas and that there were “thousands” of potential sites in the U.S. Earlier, Wal-Mart announced it would build its first three smaller-format Express stores, the first of which is slated to open on Chicago’s South Side this summer.

The new stores will include mid-sized Neighborhood Market locations of 30,000-60,000 sq. ft. and the rest will be smaller, Simon said at the investor conference. The Neighborhood Market concept will be renamed “Walmart Market.”

Simon said the retailer will introduce more stores on university campuses, and that there are “there are hundreds, if not thousands of opportunities in the U.S.” for the smaller-format stores.

Simon also announced at the conference that he saw business trends improving in the United States for the retailer, but that it was too early to revise its forecasts upward.

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