Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced this week plans to close 269 stores, most of them in the United States.
Wal-Mart said in a release that the closures
are "less than 1 percent" of its global square footage. Of the 154 stores that will close in the United States, 102 of them will be Walmart Express stores, which the company has piloted since 2011.
"Actively managing our portfolio of assets is essential to maintaining a healthy business," Doug McMillon, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores, said. "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," he continued.
Wal-Mart officials said the company will look to improve its "supercenters," grow its online business, expand pickup services, and optimize its smaller "Neighborhood Market" stores, according to its statement.
While Wal-Mart said the closures are less than 1 percent of its total square footage, they represent just more than 2 percent of its 11,600 stores globally, according to CNN Money
. The news network said about half of the overseas closure are happening in Brazil and Latin America.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Wal-Mart's
U.S. chief executive officer Greg Foran told investors in October that sales growth at its Neighborhood Markets was strong, but it would slow store openings to improve profitability.
"We're working to make them more inviting and to get them in the right locations relative to Supercenters," Foran told investors at the time.
Craig Johnson, president of the retail consulting and research firm Customer Growth Partners, told the newspaper that he expected a bigger move from Wal-Mart, which has seen a 29-percent drop in its shares over the past 12 months.
"[The] moves are a day late and a dollar short," Johnson said. "One percent rightsizing is a step in the right direction, but only a baby step. Brazil has been a basket case for years."
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