Asda Reveals Nonfood Expansion Plans

LONDON -- Asda, Wal-Mart British supermarket chain, yesterday said that it planned to launch additional Asda Living general merchandise and George clothing stores in the United Kingdom.

The second Asda Living store will open April 1 in Altrincham, and the third will serve Barnsley, starting May 27. The first Asda Living store debuted last year in Walsall. The two new stores, each comprising approximately 30,000 square feet of selling space and employing about 150 workers each, take up two levels and will carry all of the chain's home, toy, electrical, clothing, and jewelry lines.

Standalone George units, which are each to be staffed by 50 workers, will open April 8 in Swansea, Wales; May 6 in Chester on May; and in June in Norwich. The Swansea store measures 16,000 square feet, the Chester store measures 8,500 square feet, and the Norwich store measures 8,220 square feet. Asda now runs six George outlets in Preston, Northampton, Leeds, Liverpool, Croydon, and Manchester.

Additionally, Asda will open at least 15 new supermarkets throughout England, Scotland, and Wales in 2005, according to Wal-Mart, leading to more than 6,000 new jobs and a million square feet net of new sales space. Other Asda expansion plans include the construction of the 20th Asda Wal-Mart Supercentre, currently under way in Milton Keynes, to fulfill Asda's promise at the start of 2000 to deliver 20 supercenters in five years, and continued investment in its existing stores through an ongoing program of store extensions and refurbishments, which will consist of 20 such projects this year.

Asda c.f.o. Judith McKenna said in a statement, "Our increasingly flexible approach to store formats, town center, and mixed-use regeneration schemes is helping us deliver an excellent investment and job creation program for 2005."

In other Wal-Mart news, the retailer said last week it would construct an 80,000-square-foot food distribution center west of Cheyenne, Wyo. Building is scheduled to begin late this year, at an estimated cost of $60 million. Local press reports said that the DC is expected to start serving stores in spring 2007.

"The Laramie County distribution center will provide Wal-Mart the opportunity to better serve our stores in the surrounding area," said Wal-Mart e.v.p. of logistics Rollin Ford in a statement. "It is a significant project that represents our continued commitment to Wyoming as a partner in both economic development and community."

According to Wal-Mart, the DC would serve stores in Wyoming and parts of Colorado. The company currently has similar distribution centers in North Platte, Neb. and Loveland, Colo.
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