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    INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Asda Hints at Plans for C-stores

    After announcing big growth plans, Wal-Mart's British subsidiary reveals it is studying the channel.

    LONDON -- The strongest sign yet that Wal-Mart's international Asda division will move into the convenience channel came earlier this week, when company CEO Andy Bond said the Asda division was looking closely at the channel after the parent company's full year results were released, reported The Independent

    "The group was studying the convenience market closely," said Bond. "I'd be surprised if at some point we don't enter the market. We recognize convenience is growing quickly. … [It] is a big market opportunity and a big consumer opportunity."

    The Independent reported that Bond dislikes the idea of abandoning Asda's national pricing strategy -- both Tesco and J Sainsbury charge more for items bought from their convenience stores -- but is aware that the company needs to find new avenues to grow. After two years, the Asda core supermarket business saw growth on an underlying basis, the report stated.

    It would take 500 convenience stores to deliver the same benefit as 10 new superstores or a 1 percent rise in underlying sales, Bond said. "Convenience stores are not the cake, they are the icing," he added.

    In addition, the company announced it would create 18,000 new jobs and a minimum of 18 new stores in the United Kingdom this year. Major extensions and improvements will be seen at 15 of its existing stores and successful non-food format 'ASDA Living' will pop up in another 10 sites within the next 12 months, the report stated.

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