Wal-Mart Closing 269 Stores Worldwide, None in Suburbs Here

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 16, 2016 | Go to article overview

Wal-Mart Closing 269 Stores Worldwide, None in Suburbs Here


Byline: Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Wal-Mart is closing 269 stores, including 154 in the U.S. -- two in Chicago, none in the Chicago suburbs -- that includes all of its locations under its smallest-format concept store called Wal-Mart Express. The other big chunk is in its challenging Brazilian market.

The stores being shuttered account for a fraction of the company's 11,000 stores worldwide and less than 1 percent of its global revenue. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said the store closures will affect 16,000 workers, 10,000 of them in the U.S. Its global workforce is 2.2 million, 1.4 million in the U.S. alone.

The store closures will start at the end of the month.

The announcement comes three months after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. CEO Doug McMillon told investors that the world's largest retailer would review its fleet of stores with the goal of becoming more nimble in the face of increased competition from all fronts, including from online rival Amazon.com.

"Actively managing our portfolio of assets is essential to maintaining a healthy business," 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."

Michael Exstein, an analyst at Credit Suisse, described the moves as "baby steps" in his report published Friday, but he believes they are positive ones. He noted that this is the first mass closing that Wal-Mart has announced in at least two decades.

"It is a sign that Wal-Mart has begun the process of dealing with unproductive locations in a much more tangible and coherent way," he wrote. "But we continue to believe that Wal-Mart needs a much larger restructuring of its store base in order to narrow its focus as it seeks to improve its sales and returns, especially internationally."

Wal-Mart has seen sales perk up for a key revenue measure for the last few quarters in its U.S. business. But it warned last October that its earnings for the fiscal year starting next month will be down as much as 12 percent as it invests further in online operations and pours money into improving customers' experience in the stores. The company has been building bigger fulfillment centers devoted to e-commerce orders and expanding online services.

Of the 154 store closures in the U.S., 102 of them are under the Wal-Mart Express name, which were opened as a test in 2011. The company operates more than 5,000 stores overall in the U.S.

Wal-Mart Express marked the retailer's first entry into the convenience store arena. The stores, which sold essentials like toothpaste, were meant to be a solution to the threat of the fast-growing dollar stores. …

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