Walmart and Abercrombie speed international expansion

Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) are both exploring growth opportunities overseas, in Central America and China, respectively.

Walmart says it could open up to 35 new stores in Central America under its Walmex nameplate. The company is reportedly investing $1.1 billion to increase its Central American retail space by nearly 7 percent.

Walmart currently operates 670 Walmex stores in Central America, and Walmex accounts for around 8 percent of Walmart's annual profit.

The chain made headlines when allegations arose that it paid bribes in Mexico to speed permits for new store openings. An investigation cited 19 instances of the retail giant paying off local officials, reports The New York Times. The alleged payoffs often related to zoning laws and environmental permits that would have otherwise prevented Walmex's opening of new stores.

Abercrombie & Fitch has also announced plans to expand its international footprint. The retailer said it will open at least 100 stores in mainland China in the next 10 years. The company will introduce its Hollister brand in China and launch a local e-commerce site there before the end of the year.

Abercrobie & Fitch on Saturday opened its flagship store in a four-story glass building on West Nanjing Road, Jing'an district, Shanghai. Like its other stores around the world, the Shanghai location features greeters, store models, heart-pumping music, classic lighting and the scent of its signature Fierce cologne.

"China will represent the biggest market potential for our brands," said Craig Brommers, SVP for marketing. "We are entering with strong brand awareness and we feel the excitement is building to the opening of our new flagship store."

Abercrombie also says it's bringing a "new" niche to the Chinese market it calls "casual-luxury."

"Chinese consumers seem to be looking for something a little beyond just blinged-out luxury logos, and we think the laid-back sophistication that A&F offers is timed right," said Brommers. 

For more:
-See this China Daily article
-See this Women's Wear Daily article

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