Wal-Mart Canada unveils 300th store
New CEO, Cheesewright: Company is “better than ever” on the promises of price and selection.
Mississauga, Ontario – June 2008 – Wal-Mart Canada opened the doors of its 300th store this morning, a Wal-Mart Supercentre in the Heartland retail district of Mississauga, Ontario. The flagship store welcomed thousands of customers in the first hour of operation – including a line up of hundreds waiting for the 8 a.m. ribbon cutting.
“Wal-Mart Canada is a strong business getting stronger,” said David Cheesewright, Wal-Mart Canada’s president and CEO, during grand-opening remarks at the 300th store this morning. “As we get ready to open the doors of our 300th store here in Mississauga, our 301st store is scheduled to open later this morning in Peace River, Alberta. Demand for our stores is high and we are responding.”
The continued growth of Wal-Mart Canada’s business – including as many as 27 new or expanded stores planned nationwide for the current year – is built upon a foundation begun in 1994, when Wal-Mart Canada took over operations of a struggling chain of 122 Woolco stores. Since that time the company has constructed 255 additional or relocated stores and expanded 28 stores, investing several billion dollars into the local economy and creating approximately 100,000 in-store and construction trade jobs.
“Wal-Mart is a business of progress and opportunity,” said Cheesewright. “Our chain is growing, our team is growing, and the opportunities to be part of a business at its best are growing.” As the fourth-largest employer in Canada, with a growing team of more than 75,000 associates, the company estimates that the equivalent of one in 100 Canadians has at some point worked for Wal-Mart. New format Wal-Mart Supercentres, require larger teams of associates and management – a team of more than 500 in the case of the newly opened 300th store, which received more than 3,500 job applications.
Supercentres also offer a larger assortment of merchandise, combining Wal-Mart’s traditionally strong general-merchandise selection with a full assortment of groceries. Canada’s first three Wal-Mart Supercentres opened in Ontario in October, 2006. By day’s end there will be 34 in three provinces – Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.
In Supercentres and across its entire chain, Wal-Mart Canada has made significant improvements to its customers’ shopping experience and to its customers’ favourite departments. Over the course of the past two years, the company has revitalized and made major changes to departments like fashion, electronics, home and housewares, health and beauty, and groceries.
“The evolution of our business has caught the attention of our customers and led Canadians to become even more enthusiastic Wal-Mart shoppers,” said Cheesewright. “Our numbers show that about one in 30 Canadians walk through our doors every day – and 95 per cent of those with access to a Wal-Mart store visit us at least once every few months.”
Wal-Mart Canada proudly introduced the concept of Everyday Low Prices to the Canadian marketplace in 1994, ensuring that Canadians wouldn’t have to wait for sales, rebates or gimmicks to get the lowest prices on well-known national brands. Fourteen years later, the company remains committed to giving customers the products they want at the lowest prices.
“Retailers generally find their strength by committing to one or two priorities,” said Cheesewright. “Our strength has been the promise of price and selection. On those measures, we’re better than ever and focused on continuous improvement. Fourteen years into our evolution our new stores offer customers three times the selection we had in 1994, and we’re more committed than ever to saving Canadians money so they can live better. In fact, this year is a record year for our famous ‘Rollback’ price cuts. In many ways, we’re just hitting our stride.”
In addition to the core strategies of price and selection, Wal-Mart Canada’s 300th store illustrates various evolutionary changes to the company’s business:
Sustainability: The 300th store includes reduced wattage and LED lighting technology; higher efficiency systems for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and sales floor refrigeration; waste diversion and recycling programs; more environmentally friendly construction materials like reflective roofing and chemical-free concrete flooring; and a full assortment of eco-friendly merchandise from bamboo apparel, to 250 organic grocery items, to efficient CFL bulbs with fully recycled and recyclable packaging.
Store of the community: The 300th store is located in Mississauga, Ontario, serving the most ethnically diverse market of any Wal-Mart store nationwide. The need for Wal-Mart’s “store of the community” approach – providing services and products that reflect the tastes and traditions of the local populations – is particularly appropriate in this market. The store’s welcome sign includes script in nine different dialects and merchandise has been stocked to serve various cultural and ethnic tastes. For example, the store stocks Halal tandoori rostiserie chicken, Punjab biscuits, 20 different grains of rice, cricket sports equipment, various housewares, and Bollywood-inspired movies and fashions, for the approximately 16 per cent of the local customers who identify themselves as South Asian.
Store appearance and operations: From refreshed colours to new in-store signage, the 300th store has a different appearance to prior stores, representing a massive departure from the gray box stores of 1994. Single-line queues with multiple cash registers, enhancements to the electronics department to provide greater high-tech assistance, aisles widths, and new “find the price here” price-check stations, all indicate a new and increased attention to customer service.
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