Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark.

2001 Sales: $219.8 billion

2000 Sales: $193.3 billion

The big daddy of retailing, Wal-Mart has a presence in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, South Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, U.K and U.S., with close to 4,500 stores in all. Non-U.S. business represented less than 20 percent of the retailer's sales last year, or about $40 billion. Like its customers, Wal-Mart says it doesn't want to overpay for real estate overseas.


Carrefour Sa, Paris

2001 Sales: $60 billion

2000 Sales: $67 billion

Carrefour is the world's largest international retailer, surpassing even Wal-Mart, with forays into Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Columbia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia and Turkey. Now it's on to Egypt.


Ahold, Zaandam, Netherlands

2001 Sales: $59.6 billion

2000 Sales: $48.6 billion

The bulk of Ahold's stores are in the U.S., where the acquisition of the Bruno's supermarket chain has extended its reach. Ahold has stores in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Thailand. A joint-venture in Central America has expanded to include Costa Rica and, in Scandinavia, there is a joint venture with Danish retailer Dansk Supermarked.


Home Depot, Atlanta, GA.

2001 Sales: $53.5 billion

2000 Sales: $45.7 billion

Home Depot tapped into the do-it-yourself trend that's had Americans repairing their own plumbing and updating their kitchens. The chain offers classes in every conceivable area of home improvement, and is open 24-hours in some locations, for those compulsive fixer-upper types. The company also operates stores in Argentina, Canada, Chile and Puerto Rico.


Kroger, Cincinnati, Ohio

2001 Sales: $50.1 billion

2000 Sales: $49.0 billion

Recently Kroger has been faced with intensifying competition from Wal-Mart in the food sector. In response, Kroger plans to cut prices. As part of its continued expansion in Texas, Kroger acquired seven Winn-Dixie supermarkets in the Dallas area, but there are no plans for venturing abroad.


Metro AG, Dusseldorf, Germany

2001 Sales: $48.9 billion

2000 Sales: $42.6 billion

Metro, which owns department stores, hypermarkets, catalogs, specialty stores and supermarkets, has been aggressive in Eastern Europe. It has stores in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the U.K.


Sears, Roebuck & Co., Hoffman Estates, Ill.

2001 Sales: $41 billion

2000 Sales: $40.9 billion

Sears Canada appeared to have scored a coup when it signed an agreement with Martha Stewart to become the exclusive Canadian retailer of the Martha Stewart Everyday brand. But that was before the ImClone scandal that has engulfed Stewart. On the apparel side, Sears is developing a master private brand to cover several categories. On the international front, Sears has not ventured far from home.


Target Corp., Minneapolis, MINN.

2001 Sales: $39.9 billion

2000 Sales: $36.9 billion

Target has decided that low-priced merchandise doesn't have to look frumpy, attracting designers with a high-end pedigree, such as Mossimo, Stephen Sprouse and Michael Graves. Whether Target will play outside the U.S. remains to be seen, as the company has not yet put its show on the international road. For now, it appears to be focused on expanding its SuperTarget format.


Albertson's Boise, Idaho

2001 Sales: $37.9 billion

2000 Sales: $36.8 billion

Albertson's has yet to venture outside the U.S. The company's new ceo, Larry Johnston, a former General Electric executive was brought in last year to shake things up. He has been aggressive in chasing supercenter competition such as Wal-Mart.


Tesco, Chestnut, U.K.

2001 Sales: $37.4 billion

2000 Sales: $31.8 billion

Tesco, the U.K.'s largest food marketer, operates convenience stores, hypermarkets and supermarkets in the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Poland, Republic of Ireland, South Korea, Slovakia, Taiwan and Thailand. It's the second-largest operator of hypermarkets in Eastern Europe, behind Ahold, and has invested in a South Korean joint venture with Samsung. Experts say the company is years ahead of American retailers, in terms of merchandising and creativity.


Rewe Group, Cologne, Germany

2001 Sales: $36.9 billion (tied with Auchan)

2000 Sales: $34.7 billion

Deep discount retailer Rewe said it will close 150 stores in Germany this year to increase profitability amid the stagnating economy. Last year, Rewe closed some 300 stores in the country. Among other things, Rewe faces an influx of successful discount chains in Germany. In Bulgaria, Rewe's expansion plans have been scaled down. It's Billa division had planned to open outlets in all major cities, but so far, only six have bowed. The company also operates stores in Austria, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Rumania, Slovakia and the Ukraine.


Auchan Group, Paris, France

2001 Sales: $36.9 billion (tied with Rewe)

2000 Sales: $25.1 billion

Auchan likes to say that it has gone from hypermarket to cybermarket. From humble beginnings in Roubaix, France, Auchan is now navigating the Web with e-commerce sites in Madrid and Paris. The company has a retail presence in Argentina, China, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, U.S. and this year plans to expand its development in Asia and in Eastern Europe.


Kmart Corp., Troy. Mich.

2001 Sales: $36.1 billion

2000 Sales: $37.0 billion

So far, Kmart has only stuck its big toe in the international waters, opening stores in Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.While it's been tough for Kmart to expand globally, while under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the company formed a new international division in February, an indication that it's putting renewed focus on the global markets.


Safeway, Pleasonton, Calif.

2001: $34.3 billion

2000: $32 billion

Safeway is under pressure from Kroger, one of its main competitors. Excluding Canada, 58 percent of its stores are within five miles of Kroger, which itself has been struggling under the large shadow of Wal-Mart. Safeway's answer to competitive pressure is to become price-aggressive. On the foreign front, Safeway has been talking to the U.K.'s Tesco about a home delivery joint venture.


Costco Wholesale Corp., Issaquah, Wash.

2001 Sales: $34 billion

2000 Sales: $32 billion

Costco operates an international chain of membership warehouses, mainly under the Costco Wholesale name, that carry brand-name merchandise at substantially lower prices than typical retailers. The stores sell everything from jewelry, appliances and furniture to groceries in gargantuan proportions -- bulk baby formula, bucket-sized bags of potato chips and reams of paper towels are standard fare. The company operates stores in Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, U.K. and U.S.


J.C. Penney Co., Plano, Tex.

2001 Sales: $32 billion

2000 Sales: $31.8 billion

In the midst of a major transformation, J.C. Penney Co. has been upgrading its apparel offerings, while trying to make the shopping experience more pleasant with centralized checkout stations. On the home front, Penney's is testing a new prototype that could double the space given over to home furnishings in certain stores. The dismal economies of Brazil and Mexico have thwarted Penney's growth in those countries.


ITM Enterprises, Paris, France

2001 Sales: $31.4 billion

2000 Sales: $30.2 billion

French retailer ITM Enterprises is still having trouble in Germany, where its Spar Handels grocery chain is losing money. The group's difficulties also extend to Italy, where it is believed that ITM will exit operations by yearend. ITM's Intermarche has more than 1,600 supermarkets in France. ITM is also active in Belgium, Bosnia, Hungary, Poland, Portugal and Spain.


J. Sainsbury, London, England

2001 Sales: $29.2 billion

2000 Sales: $25.5 billion

Britain's second-largest grocery chain, J. Sainsbury, has been offering harried customers such innovations as a one-hour laundry service, promising to have clothes cleaned and ironed during the weekly shopping trip. It is also preparing to launch a new line of products, called Way to Five, in an attempt to persuade consumers to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. The company is relaunching its Savacentre hypermarket format and Shaw's in the U.S. is planning to expand outside its New England base.


Ito-Yokado Co. Ltd., Tokyo, Japan

2001 Sales: $29.1 billion

2000 Sales: $28.3 billion

Continued strength at the Seven-Eleven chain has been a major factor in helping Japanese retail conglomerate Ito-Yokado buck the earnings slump in the domestic retail sector. The convenience store is expanding in Thailand, where it plans to have 2,000 units in operation by yearend. Ito-Yokado also operates in Canada, China, Denmark, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey and the U.S.


Edeka Group, Hamburg, Germany

2001 Sales: $27.6 billion

2000 Sales: $28.8 billion

Majority owned by Edeka, AVA operates hypermarkets, opticians and DIY stores. Earlier in the year Edeka said it's long term goal is to control 75 percent of the German retailer. AVA has confirmed plans to open a Marktkauf retail centre in the town of Kotelniki in the Moscow region of Russia in the summer of this year, representing it's first foray into that country.


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