Costco Mulls European Expansion

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco Wholesale Corp. [3] here is considering opening its first stores in Continental Europe, according to reports from the Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit in Istanbul.

Costco officials could not be reached for comment.

According to the reports, James P. Murphy, the company's international executive vice president, said, "We are interested in investment in the obvious four — Germany, Italy, France and Spain." Although he said the company hasn't decided which country may be first, Costco will probably open a warehouse in one of those locations "in the next couple of years," the report quoted him as saying.

Costco currently operates in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, through majority-owned subsidiaries in Taiwan and South Korea, and in Mexico via a joint venture, which it is in the process of acquiring. At the end of its last fiscal year, it had 163 clubs outside the U.S.