story by Kim Souza
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is expanding its retail footprint across Canada this year by adding 1.4 million square feet, or 37 supercenters and several distribution centers, to counter Target’s recent move into the country.
The Bentonville-based retail giant plans to invest $450 million north of the U.S. border and says it will create at least 7,000 jobs with this expansion.
Stewart Samuel, IGD North America research manager said, “This rate of expansion is consistent with what the world’s largest retailer has been achieving over recent years. And last year saw a bigger than usual boost thanks to its acquisition of 39 former Zellers sites. Wal-Mart has been focusing on expanding and remodeling as many of its discount stores as possible in order to make its full grocery and fresh foods offer available. It has become increasingly efficient with ‘in-box’ conversions, enabling it to offer its food ranges from the same footprint, through rebalancing the space between nonfood and food within its former discount stores."
“Wal-Mart will continue to account for the greatest proportion of new food and grocery space in Canada, among the established food and grocery retailers,” Samuel added.
He believes Wal-Mart will outcompete Target Canada in grocery, saying that although Target will sell food, it is likely to account for proportionately less space within the stores than in Walmart Supercenters.
"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 supercenter format to more Canadians," said Shelley Broader, president and CEO of Walmart Canada
Broader said the Walmart supercenter carries close to 100,000 different products ranging from apparel and home decor to electronics and grocery.
"We're truly delighted to be adding a full grocery section to more locations across the country, including the opening of our first supercenters in the Maritimes," Broader said.
As of Jan. 31, Walmart Canada had 379 stores, including 209 supercenters. The retailer said it will have a store count of 388 by January 2014.
In fiscal 2013 Walmart Canada announced plans to add 73 stores (including 39 Zellers locations) and the last of those grand openings are will occur by the end of January.
Word of Walmart’s expansion comes just days before Target’s much anticipated debut of the bulls eye signage in the first two dozen stores in Canada. Target will also have taken over and began fully remodeling 124 former Zellers Stores by the end of this year.