Walmart Sets Plans for New Smaller Format in U.S.

BENTONVILLE, Ark.-Walmart will debut new, smaller-format stores in the United States, which will be called Walmart Express.

Speaking at yesterday's Bank of America Merrill Lynch Consumer Conference, Bill Simon, president and chief executive officer of Walmart U.S., said the new Walmart Express format will measure roughly 15,000 square feet. The company is still developing the format, and Simon said it will open pilot Walmart Expresses, both with and without pharmacies, in both urban and rural areas beginning in the second quarter.

"The aim to get the right model so we can rapidly roll these things out," Simon told the conference. "At our peak, we built about 350 supercenters in a year, so when we get this thing right, these are going to come real fast."

According to press reports, the company will begin building the first Walmart Express in Gentry, Ark., about 20 miles from here, on March 16.

Simon said Walmart has already opened its first Walmart on Campus, which includes food and pharmacy, on the campus of the University of Arkansas. He also said the company will rebrand its Neighborhood Markets, measuring from as little as 25,000 to 30,000 square feet to as much as 60,000 to 70,000 square feet, as Walmart Markets.

Smaller formats are not new to Walmart, Simon said, citing formats such as Todo Dia in Brazil, Bodega Aurerra Express in Mexico and ChangoMas in Argentina. "We run small formats all over the world," he said, "and these small boxes are among the most profitable businesses that these countries run. So as we borrow and learn from them to build the U.S. small-format portfolio, we think we can deliver that end-to-end continuum that will give access to customers wherever they might be with the products that are most relevant to them in the markets that they are in."

As of press time this morning, Walmart had not returned messages asking for comment on how many Expresses it plans to open this year.

HFN Staff | News & Commentary

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