* Wal-Mart to open 110 new stores 2014-2016
* Closing 15-30 stores in addition to 11 closed this year
* Expanding China business through e-commerce
By Matthew Miller
BEIJING, Oct 23 Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the
world's biggest retailer, is expanding its China business as it
seeks to raise profitability in a slowing retail sector.
Wal-Mart will open up to 110 facilities in China between
2014 and 2016, in addition to the 30 it has already opened this
year, it said at a press event in Beijing on Thursday.
Wal-Mart has closed 11 stores and is looking to close 15-30
others over the next 18 months, said Greg Foran, chief executive
of Wal-Mart China, in what he called part of a rationalization
The U.S. company is tackling tough global economic
conditions and a fundamental change in China's retail sector, as
annual sales growth slows and consumers move towards shopping
Wal-Mart wants to profit from China's changing retail
landscape by embracing e-commerce, which is expected to record
32 percent composite annual growth between 2012 and 2015,
according to Bain & Co.
"Customers are using technology more, and especially here in
China," said Wal-Mart Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke.
"We love customers to understand price, and the safety of
the product they're purchasing. E-commerce is a great enabler
allowing Walmart to grow globally."
Duke said Wal-Mart's e-commerce business grew about 30
percent in the first half of the year, and that the company is
aligned with China's government strategy that promotes an
emerging middle class and urbanisation.
Wal-Mart announced last week that it was closing 50
unprofitable stores in Brazil and China as the retailer seeks to
ensure sales growth outpaces operating expenses. International
sales declined 2.9 percent in the three months ended July 31.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer competes in China
against market leaders Sun Art Retail Group Ltd, a
joint venture between Taiwan conglomerate Ruentex Group and
privately held French retailer Groupe Auchan SA, and China
Resources Enterprise Ltd, which in August teamed up
with British retailer Tesco Plc. [ID: nL4N0GA081]
Last year, Wal-Mart bought control of its Chinese online
store Yihaodian, which claims 24 million registered users and
provides same-day delivery services to customers.
Wal-Mart operates more than 400 retail hypermarkets, Sam's
Club stores and distribution centres in more than 160 cities