BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores  here said last week it plans to open a Walmart Express and a Walmart Market in the West Englewood section of Chicago — an area it described as the heart of Chicago's food desert and one of the city's most underserved communities.
In a separate presentation at an investor conference, the company also said it planned to open “hundreds” of small-format stores in the U.S. in the next few years, and that it was willing to look at acquisitions to do so, particularly in markets where it currently lacks scale.
In Chicago, the Walmart Market — the format formerly known as Neighborhood Market — is scheduled to open in the spring of 2012 in West Englewood; the Walmart Express, the company's new, under-30,000-square-foot format, is scheduled to open in the same area in the winter of 2012.
Julie Murphy, senior vice president, Walmart U.S., said Wal-Mart will “continue to identify sites in Chicago's food deserts.”
Walmart said it also plans to open another Express unit in the West Chatham neighborhood this summer and a Walmart Market in the city's West Loop region next fall, plus two more supercenters — one in West Chatham in spring 2012 and another in the Pullman neighborhood in spring 2013.
Earlier this month, Wal-Mart unveiled plans for its first Walmart Express units, three stores in rural Arkansas measuring 15,000 square feet and slated to open in the coming months.
At a recent investor conference, Bill Simon, president and chief executive officer, Walmart U.S., said the company will experiment with the concept and anticipates a rapid rollout.
“We're in the process of developing it, and we'll open in the second quarter in both urban and rural pilots, with pharmacy and without pharmacy, varying levels of fresh and other product assortment,” he said. “The aim here is to get the right model so that we can rapidly roll these things out.”
The company also recently opened its first Walmart Campus small-format store at the University of Arkansas, which Simon said is “doing way better than anybody anticipated.” It includes a pharmacy and “pretty well everything a college student needs, with an almost endless supply of macaroni and cheese and ramen noodles, along with everything else they go with.”