CHICAGO Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) could use some acquisitions to help increase its business in Japan, Doug McMillon, president and chief executive of Walmart International, said on Wednesday.
While McMillon did not specifically address any deals Wal-Mart might be considering, Tesco Plc (TSCO.L) last week put its Japanese business up for sale. Sources told Reuters that Tesco hired Goldman Sachs (GS.N) to advise it on selling 129 stores in the greater Tokyo area.
Japan is a small but important business for Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer. Sales at its Japanese stores have improved in the months following the earthquake and tsunami as Wal-Mart focuses on everyday low prices and brings in fresh food and other products from elsewhere to try to stand out from competitors.
A bigger way to win in Japan is probably through changing Wal-Mart's supply chain, and it believes it needs more scale, over time, to do that well, McMillon said at a Goldman Sachs retailing conference in New York. His comments were also webcast.
"Acquisitions are part of our future, we believe, in Japan,
and would like for them to be," said McMillon. "Some of them may be small, we may start picking up locations here and there."
Wal-Mart entered Japan in 2002 and now has about 413 stores there.
"To really change the business, I think size is going to be necessary," said McMillon.
(Reporting by Jessica Wohl; editing by John Wallace)