Walmart Canada Rapidly Catching Up

BOSTON — Walmart Canada [4] is catching up to its U.S. sister division rapidly in terms of supercenter rollout and ecommerce, David Cheesewright, president and chief executive, Walmart Canada, said at an analyst conference here last week.

Of the company's 325 locations in Canada, 135 have been converted to supercenters, with plans to continue at a rate of about 40 conversions per year.

“Other than a handful, we think every store can be converted to a supercenter,” Cheesewright said.

Walmart Canada has three different ways to execute the expansion of its grocery offering, he explained:

• New supercenter builds or relocations of existing traditional discount stores, which will encompass eight of the planned supercenter openings this year.

• Expansions, which involve adding 30,000 to 40,000 square feet of space to existing stores. The company plans 12 such expansions this year.

• Internal remodels, which involve adding groceries to existing space, at about 10% of the cost of an expansion, and lack service departments like bakery and deli, he explained.

Wherever possible, however, the company is expanding the stores rather than doing internal remodels, Cheesewright said. “Supercenter rollout is clearly the key driver that's been broadening our assortment,” he said, noting that the division has had 6.6% compound sales growth over the last five years.

The company's stores range in size from about 70,000 to 200,000 square feet.

In terms of online purchasing capabilities, Walmart Canada just this month enabled its website to allow transactional capabilities. The company launched a limited test of a drop-ship operation, which is planned to run through September, to be followed by the capability for product to be shipped from Walmart Canada's own warehouses to customers' homes. After that, the company plans to make site-to-store pickup available, Cheesewright explained.