January 22, 2013 / 12:25 PM / in 5 years

UPDATE 2-Wal-Mart plans $450 million expansion in Canada

* Canadian unit sees store count at 388 by end Jan 2014
    * Store count to be 379 by Jan. 31, 2013
    * 37 supercenter projects planned for coming fiscal year

    Jan 22 (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc's Canadian
unit will expand its distribution network and open a handful of
new stores in the coming fiscal year, as rival discounter Target
Corp prepares to open its first stores in the country
this spring.
    Wal-Mart's planned $450 million investment pales in
comparison with the more than $750 million it earmarked for
expansion in the current fiscal year, which wraps up at the end
of January.
    That said, it has been a particularly active year, thanks to
Hudson's Bay Co's decision to mothball its discount
banner Zellers. Target secured its first Canadian locations from
HBC, and Wal-Mart took over 39 former Zellers outlets.
    Wal-Mart said it expected to have about 388 Canadian
locations by the end of January 2014, compared with 379 as of
Jan. 31, 2013, and 333 a year earlier. Target plans to open 124
stores in Canada, starting in March or April.
    The world's biggest retailer has been converting many of its
Canadian stores to "supercenters," which feature more grocery
items than standard stores, putting pressure on profit margins
at Canadian grocers. It plans to complete at least 37
supercenter projects next fiscal year.

    Target is expected to shake up the retail landscape across
Canada, challenging Wal-Mart in a market it has dominated for
nearly two decades.
    "This year, we are ramping up our focus on lowering prices
and helping customers lower their cost of living, as we continue
to bring our supercentre format to more Canadians," said Shelley
Broader, CEO of Walmart Canada. 
    The plan, which includes construction of new stores,
expansion, remodeling or relocation of existing stores, is
expected to generate more than 7,000 store, trade and
construction jobs, the company said.
   Wal-Mart, which entered Canada in 1994, said it would also
introduce the supercentre format to locations in the Maritime
provinces in eastern Canada this year.
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