* Wal-Mart closing its 6 Sam's Club stores in Canada
* Lowe's says it is evaluating those locations
* Wal-Mart to instead focus on opening supercenters
(Recasts, adds byline, analyst comment, stock price)
By Nicole Maestri
NEW YORK, Feb 26 Wal-Mart Stores Inc's (WMT.N)
Canadian division said on Thursday it is closing all six of its
Sam's Club stores to focus instead on opening more Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart said it is in discussions with a major U.S.
retailer to purchase Wal-Mart's interest in five of the
locations, but it did not give the name of the retailer.
A spokeswoman for Lowe's Cos (LOW.N) said the home
improvement retailer is evaluating those real estate locations,
as well as other real estate opportunities
The Canadian Sam's Club stores are all in Ontario.
"Despite our best efforts and the commendable work of our
Sam's Club associates, our six Clubs have not met our
expectations," said David Cheesewright, president and chief
executive of Wal-Mart Canada, in a statement.
Wal-Mart entered Canada in 1994, and in 2006 it began
opening its first Canadian supercenters, which offer groceries
along with general merchandise.
Wal-Mart has since expanded the number of supercenters it
operates in Canada to 56. It did not have the same success with
its Sam's Club warehouse stores after opening its first one in
Joseph Beaulieu, an analyst with Morningstar, said it was
not surprising to see Wal-Mart close its Canadian Sam's Clubs.
"When something doesn't work, it might take them a while
but they finally get around to closing it down," he said.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc also has seen sales weakness at Sam's
Club stores in the United States, where it operates in more
than 600 locations.
Wal-Mart Canada said it intends to open 26 new supercenters
in Canada this year, bringing the number of Canadian
supercenters to 82 and Wal-Mart Canada's overall store count to
316 by the end of the year.
Wal-Mart shares closed down nearly 2 percent, or 96 cents,
at $48.25 on the New York Stock Exchange.
(See here for
"Shop Talk" -- Reuters' retail and consumer blog)
(Reporting by Nicole Maestri; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe;
editing by Carol Bishopric)