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Wal-Mart Canada Accelerates Supercenters

$470 million earmarked for stores and other expansion moves.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will invest $470 million in its Canadian operations this year, principally to expand its network of Supercenters at the expense of its discount stores.

Wal-Mart Canada has earmarked 376 million Canadian dollars, or $353 million at current exchange, to open 35 Supercenters, which stock food and grocery products, and expand their number to 282 from 247. Included in the plans are six new stores, 10 expansions, 18 in-box conversions and one relocation. The number of discount stores will contract to 113 from 142, and the net gain in total store count will be six, to 395 from 389.

Target Corp., which has had a difficult introduction in the Canadian market, last week said that it would add nine stores this year to its current fleet of 124.

Wal-Mart has allotted an additional 31 million Canadian dollars, or $29.1 million, for various e-commerce projects, and 91 million Canadian dollars, or $85.5 million, to upgrade the distribution network for its fresh food products.

Wal-Mart’s Canadian unit, which was established in 1994 with the acquisition of the Woolco chain, expects the investments to generate 7,500 jobs, including construction positions. The Canadian operation currently employs about 95,000 associates and serves about 1.2 million customers each day. Its online store at walmart.ca is visited by 300,000 customers daily, the company said.

Locations for the stores and other facilities will be disclosed as plans for them are completed.