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    Wal-Mart Expects 1,000-Plus Marketside Stores

    Company calls the venture a pilot, while Tesco names it competition.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- While Wal-Mart senior executives have described the companies Marketside store format as a pilot program, it is the first time in nearly a decade that the retail juggernaut has broke from its successful formula.

    A recent advertisement, however, underscores industry insider claims that the concept is far more than a pilot program. Marketside "is expected to start with 10 stores and evolve to between 1,000-1,500 stores with over $10 billion annual sales" the advertisement stated.

    First launched in 1998, and at 10th of the size of a typical Wal-Mart, the stores were designed toward "the needs of a time-starved, higher-income consumer that is interested in convenience and premium fresh, natural and organic offerings."

    The Financial Times reported that Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. grocer with more than 20 percent of the market, maintains that the latest Arizona-based stores are indeed a pilot project. However, Tesco, which currently operates 60 plus Fresh & Easy stores in California, Nevada and Arizona is expected to open hundreds more locations in the region over the next few years.

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