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Walmart Express small-format stores to be shut

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Walmart announces move as part of 269 store closings globally

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart plans to close all of its Walmart Express small-format stores in the United States as part of a move to shut 269 stores worldwide.

The retail giant said Friday that, after a review of the nearly 11,600 stores in its global portfolio, it aims to close 269 stores, including 154 U.S. locations.

The U.S. store closings include all 102 Walmart Express outlets plus 23 Walmart Neighborhood Markets, 12 Walmart Supercenters, seven stores in Puerto Rico, six discount centers and four Sam’s Clubs.

Walmart said it was ending the test of the Walmart Express format, launched in 2011, and instead will focus on its Supercenter and Neighborhood Market formats, as well on expanding its e-commerce business and expanding its Pickup services.

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Walmart Express pharmacies had raised competitive concerns among chain drug store retailers.

In recent years, Walmart’s sharper focus on smaller stores raised concerns among competing retail formats, notably dollar stores and drug chains.

The Neighborhood Market stores, all of which have pharmacies, average approximately 40,000 square feet and offer fresh produce, meat and dairy products, bakery and deli items, household supplies, and health and beauty aids.

The Express stores, not all of which have pharmacies, run around 15,000 square feet and carry groceries and general merchandise.

“Actively managing our portfolio of assets is essential to maintaining a healthy business,” Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. “Closing stores is never an easy decision, but it is necessary to keep the company strong and positioned for the future. It’s important to remember that we’ll open well more than 300 stores around the world next year. So we are committed to growing, but we are being disciplined about it.”

Announced in October, the store portfolio review was intended to ensure that Walmart’s assets were aligned with its strategy, and to that end stores were evaluated on their financial performance as well as how they fit in with the company’s long-term plans, according to Walmart. The stores set to close represent less than 1% of both its global square footage and revenue, the company noted.

The 115 stores outside the United States affected by the decision include 60 recently closed, loss-making stores in Brazil, and 55 mostly small, loss-making stores in other Latin American markets, Walmart said.


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