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    Wal-Mart Plans Aggressive Growth

    After scaling back September sales growth figures, the discount retailers is set to open 300 new stores in 2003.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Thought Wal-Mart's growth was slowing? Think again.

    After teasing its competitors yesterday by smaller retail chains yesterday slashing its sales growth forecast for September, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. rebounded to launch an aggressive growth strategy for 2003 that includes opening 300 new stores, many within a close proximity to existing Wal-Mart stores.

    Domestically, the Wal-Mart division plans to open about 45 to 55 new discount stores and 200 to 210 new Supercenters. Relocations or expansions of existing discount stores will account for about 140 of the Supercenters, while the remainder will be built in new locations, the company said. Many of the Supercenters are expected to include gas stations, with its oil company partners, Tesoro Petroleum Corp., Sunoco Inc. and Murphy Oil Corp. About 85 to 90 percent of the stores will be opened by the end of the third quarter.

    Wal-Mart will add 20 to 25 of its smaller Neighborhood Market stores, and 40 to 45 of its warehouse format Sam's Club stores domestically. About two-thirds of the Sam's Clubs will be relocations or expansions of existing clubs.

    Wal-Mart International plans to open 120 to 130 units in existing markets, including two restaurant formats, specialty apparel retail stores and supermarkets in Mexico.

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