Wal-Mart's Supercenter Expansion to Slow

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Wal-Mart's Supercenter Expansion to Slow

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart's head-on expansion of the grocery-heavy supercenter format is slowing substantially. At the company's annual shareholders meeting Friday executives said they will cut their plans for new supercenters this year by about 30 percent.

The news that Wal-Mart would reduce its emphasis on new stores and try instead to squeeze greater sales from existing plants cheered Wall Street-not to mention doubtless some supermarket operators. Shares of the company rose 4 percent on the news.

Also boosting share price for the stock was word that Wal-Mart will repurchase $15 billion of its own shares. Wal-Mart's stock price has dropped 23 percent in the last six or so years.

The chain said it now expects to open 190 to 200 supercenters this fiscal year, down from its previous plan of 265 to 270.

Starting next fiscal year, the retailer said it anticipates opening 170 supercenters a year.

Wal-Mart had 2,307 U.S. supercenters at the end of April, according to Reuters report.

Reuters said Wal-mart executives admitted on Friday that the company had gone too far with more upscale programs in a bid to sell higher-price goods and broaden its shopper base and expand its image beyond that of a low-priced retailer.