Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Chilean unit said Wednesday it will invest $800 million over the next three years to open about 55 to 60 stores.
The funds will also be used to renovate more than 50 stores and complete a big distribution center near Santiago, Chile’s capital.
Wal-Mart in 2009 acquired a majority stake in Distribución y Servicio D&S S.A., Chile’s leading food retailer. With headquarters in Santiago, Wal-Mart Chile is a major retailer in the country, operating supermarkets, hypermarkets and discount stores under banners such as Central Mayorista, Ekono and Lider.
The expansion is expected to focus on medium-size units including Super Bodega a Cuenta, which sells apparel and home products from a variety of private-label brands and Express de Lider.
Chile’s economy has struggled in recent years due to falling prices for exported copper and a dearth of international investment. Nor is the economic picture expected to turn rosy with a work stoppage at one of the country’s biggest mines.
However, Wal-Mart may think the worst is behind it since the retailer in the third quarter of 2017 divested noncore shopping centers in Chile, realizing a gain of $86 million.
Wal-Mart Chile’s president and chief executive officer Horatio Barbeito said consumers place a premium on value, both in good times and bad, and insisted that there’s room to expand the retailer’s low-cost model.
Chile is Wal-Mart’s second-largest business in South America with 363 units, after Brazil’s 498.