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Wal-Mart To Open 300 New Stores

October 2, 2000

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, plans to open more than more than 300 stores worldwide next year in one of the company’s most ambitious expansion plans.

The Bentonville-based company said Monday it plans to add its traditional discount stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Clubs in the United States or in countries where it currently does business.

Next year, Wal-Mart will open about 40 new discount stores and 170 to 180 new Supercenters in the United States. The company said it was speeding up its Supercenter expansion because of their popularity.

A majority of the new Supercenters will come from the relocation or expansion of existing discount stores; the remainder will be new Supercenters in new locations.

The company plans to almost double the number of its Neighborhood Market stores, adding 15 to 20 next year, and add 40 to 50 Sam’s Clubs, about half of those relocations or expansions of existing clubs. Some 100 Sam’s Clubs will be remodeled.

In addition, Wal-Mart International will open 100 to 110 stores. Stores will open in each of the countries where Wal-Mart currently operates, and will include discount stores, Sam’s Clubs, and some relocations. Also included in the expansion plans are several restaurants, department stores and supermarkets in Mexico.

``The planned square footage growth for the coming year represents approximately 40 million square feet of new retail space, which will be the largest square footage increase in the company’s history,″ said Lee Scott, president and chief executive.

As of Sept. 30, the company had 1,742 Wal-Mart stores, 835 Supercenters, 469 Sam’s Clubs, and 13 Neighborhood Markets in the U.S. It had 1,041 stores overseas.

In a separate move, Wal-Mart has closed down its e-commerce site and said it won’t reopen for ``a few weeks.″

The retailer, which posted a note on its site Walmart.com, said that the remodeling will enable customers to have ``a pleasant shopping experience this holiday season.″ The company said that all orders placed before the closing will be filled.

``It’s very strange,″ said Seema Williams, a senior analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research. ``It’s better to close down a site during the first quarter, not the fourth quarter. It won’t be a sales-breaker, but I think it might be problematic for them. They won’t have a hard time regaining old customers, but they may have a problem with getting new customers.″

In January, Wal-Mart relaunched its Web site, offering an expanded selection of clothes, books and appliances, along with such new features as e-mail reminders about anniversaries and birthdays.

Shares of Wal-Mart were down $2.44, or 5 percent, to $46.19 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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