Walmart to boost fresh food handle in Canada

(Dave Bedard photo)

The Canadian arm of U.S. retail giant Walmart has earmarked about $340 million to build 29 new retail and grocery supercentres and to expand its distribution networks for fresh food and online shopping.

The company on Wednesday announced it will spend about $230 million in fiscal 2015 (ending Jan. 31, 2016) on supercentre projects, including remodeling and expansion of several stores to add full grocery departments.

Walmart also said it will budget $75 million for “additional distribution centres” to boost its fresh food and e-commerce capacities in Canada, and another $35 million for “additional e-commerce initiatives.”

The retailer, which last month opened 11 such supercentres in Canada, said the combined expansions are expected to create about 1,000 store jobs and 300 distribution centre jobs across the country over the next year.

Where the chain’s smaller stores handle department-store fare such as clothing, home decor and home electronics, its larger supercentre sites usually also include grocery and pharmacy departments and garden centres.

The specific store and distribution centre sites are to be announced “over the coming weeks and months as projects become finalized,” the company said.

Walmart said it expects its Canadian store count to reach 396 by the end of next January, including 309 supercentres and 87 discount stores.

The chain’s expansion announcement comes as a rival U.S. discount retailer prepares to pull out of Canada less than two years after arriving.

Target announced in January it will shut all of its 133 stores in Canada, putting over 17,000 employees out of work.

Target — which had a wholesale grocery supply deal in Canada through Sobeys — began the liquidation process at the affected stores earlier this month and has said it expects to wrap up its Canadian operations by May or June. — Network


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