Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, plans to launch more Sam’s Clubs in the world’s second largest economy, China.
Eyeing an immense and still largely untapped market, Walmart’s new CEO for China, Greg Foran, has announced plans to open two new Sam’s Clubs in 2014.
Sam’s Club membership in China now numbers about 1.7 million, said Mr. Foran. But potential Chinese membership is colossal.
“There are a couple hundred million people in China who could be Sam’s members,” said Mr. Foran, in a published report.
China is the world’s most populous country with 1.35 billion people, more than four times the U.S. population of 313.9 million.
Anticipating an increasing consumer-oriented Chinese economy, Foran said he plans to boost the pace of Sam’s Clubs openings to ten new stores yearly over the next six to seven years.
At the same time, Foran will cut online prices for goods sold on its Yihaodian site in response to increasing competition from online and brick-and-mortar retailers.
Last year, Walmart opened two new Sam’s Club stores, one in Hangzhou, the other in Suzhou, the ninth and tenth Sam’s Club outlets.
Although Walmart is the world’s leading retailer as measured by sales revenue, it is not the leading retailer in China. Walmart’s competitors in China have racked up more sales than the U.S. retailing giant and operate more stores.
Foran plans to stop that trend with price reductions and increased efficiency.
Walmart president and CEO Mike Duke, said, “China is a key strategic market for Wal-Mart and we are very well-positioned to serve the country’s emerging middle class…”