Walmart (NYSE:WMT) has announced plans to expand its footprint in China by nearly a third, opening 115 new stores by 2017.
CEO Doug McMillon, speaking at a news conference in Beijing, said the retailer wants to push its growth among China's grocery shoppers, despite its slow growth thus far, reported Reuters.
"Our aim is to become an integral part of China's economy," McMillon said. "China is a top priority."
The new plan is part of an effort to heighten Walmart's influence in China, which has the world's second largest economy. Walmart reported in February that its sales in China had declined 0.7 percent for the quarter, with same-store sales falling 2.3 percent.
The results for Walmart Canada have been quite different. Store sales were up 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter due in large part to e-commerce and the store's grocery department.
Walmart's new Chinese stores will be located in cities such as Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan. At the end of January, the company operated 411 stores in China, 50 of which will be remodeled this year for $60 million. In addition, Walmart will close some underperforming stores. The retailer shuttered 29 outlets in China last year.
Walmart's grocery assortment is not only a priority abroad, but also in the United States. Last week, U.S. CEO Greg Foran said the company plans to focus on fresh foods and grocery assortment, which accounts for 56 percent of the retailer's annual sales.
-See this Reuters article
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