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Walmart Plans $500 Million Expansion in Canada

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Another U.S. retail giant has set its sights on expanding in Canada. Walmart announced Tuesday that it plans to invest $500 million for supercenters, growing its distribution network and increasing its e-commerce operations in Canada.

For the company’s fiscal year, which runs from February 1, 2014 to January 31, 2015, Walmart Canada says it will open thirty-five supercenters, adding one million square feet of retail space. Currently, the company operates 389 stores including 247 supercenters and employs over 95,000 associates. It is one of Canada’s largest employers.

Shelley Broader, Walmart Canada’s president and CEO said, “Customers in every region of Canada are looking to save money on their entire list of shopping needs.” She added, “Delivering on our commitment to help lower the cost of living is our top priority, and our growing network of supercentres and our expanding walmart.ca offering enable us to do just that.”

Walmart Canada supercenters carry more than 100,000 products including apparel, groceries, home décor and electronics, plus pharmacy, garden center and vision center services.

Online, Canadian shoppers can order items ranging from toothpaste to patio sets and Walmart says its e-store is growing rapidly. They’ve added web-specific services like free shipping to most of Canada and easy Canada Post pick up.

The $500 million investment will be used for new store construction plus expansion, remodeling and relocating for some existing stores. More than $376 million will go to store projects, $91 million to distribution network projects aimed at expanding Walmart Canada’s fresh food capability, and $31 million will go toward e-commerce development.

Walmart says the whole expansion should create more than 7,500 jobs in the next year, including jobs for construction work.

It seems that Canada is the new place to be for mega retailers of late as just last week, Target announced its intent to expand in the country by opening nine new stores in 2014 to add to the 124 already opened in 2013.

Target has been zealous about its Canadian invasion but consumers have yet to get on board with pricing at the store since the same goods are often more expensive than in U.S. stores.

But the Canadian invasion hasn’t been so beneficial for struggling Sears. Earlier this month, Sears Canada announced it would cut 1,628 jobs in an outsourcing initiative that would see work from three of its Customer Contact Centres reassigned to IBM and some jobs simply eliminated.

Two weeks later, Sears Canada said it would cut another 624 jobs as part of a strategic restructuring, laying off an average of five employees per store.

Locations for Walmart Canada’s store and distribution center revamps will be unveiled as plans are finalized. The retailer expects its store count to hit 395 by the end of January 2015, including 282 supercenters and 113 discount stores.

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