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Wal-Mart aims higher
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Wal-Mart will open its 100th store in China, the retailer announced yesterday.


Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's biggest retailer, said it would continue expanding here at more than 30 percent annually.


The US retail giant now has 94 stores in China, and was preparing to open more, Terrence Cullen, vice-president of development for Wal-Mart in China, told a news conference in Beijing yesterday.


It has opened 23 stores this year alone, compared with 15 new stores last year. "We intend to continue our aggressive, organic growth in China," Cullen said.


Wal-Mart has invested 1.7 billion yuan in China since opening its first store in Shenzhen, a city in South China's Guangdong Province, in 1996. The retailer buys around $18 billion of goods a year from factories on the mainland.


Wal-Mart's international sales growth far outstrips domestic and its overseas sales now account for almost a quarter of the total. Its sales of US products in China have doubled over the last two years. And during the same period, it expanded from 56 stores to 94 in China.


Trade officials from the two countries including US Commerce Secretary Carlos M Gutierrez and China's Vice-Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei also spoke at yesterday's event. The company's expansion reflected the growing bilateral economic relationship between China and the US, officials said.


"Wal-Mart's expansion benefits millions of US shareholders, creates valuable jobs in the United States and creates new jobs for Chinese," Gutierrez said.


The US retailer also yesterday opened a new store in Loudi, in Central China's Hunan province. The location of the new store reflects its strategy of expanding into second- and third-tier cities, Wal-Mart China chief executive Ed Chan said.


"The opening of our new Loudi super center coincides with a special moment in our development in China because it is an example of how we are investing in smaller cities that have traditionally been underserved by organized retailers," he said.


Gutierrez is in Beijing to attend the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, which will be held today.


(China Daily December 11, 2007)

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