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    Wal-Mart Revamped Grocery Chain Finds Home Takes on Tesco

    Mega store retailer promotes down-sized, food-centric experience.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart is moving forward with its vision to build a small footprint grocery store brand "Marketside" that will offer "fresh and delicious food" and "the highest level of customer service," reported The Financial Times.

    While known worldwide for its mega box stores, the retailer's new format will feature a 15,000-square-foot floor plan designed to be "dedicated to helping our customers answer the question 'What's for dinner?'" reported the paper.

    In a move that borrows successful practices from retailers like Whole Foods Market, the new stores will prepare and serve food and will feature a kitchen, food counters and seating for up to nine people, according to released planning documents.

    Approximately one-third the size of a Wal-Mart floor plan, the new stores will trade under a logo depicting a pile of stylized vegetables and fruits, with the name in green and a small blue star, the only reference to Wal-Mart.

    The first four locations are slated for Arizona with job advertisements being posted in local papers. Competition will be stiff as Wal-Marts U.K. rival Tesco, which operates Fresh & Easy Markets, will be opening new locations in the same Phoenix area community.

    The Financial Times reported Tesco has opened more than 60 Fresh & Easy neighborhood stores since November around Phoenix, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and is slated to open an additional 200 locations by the end of 2009; however the company is in the midst of a three-month pause in its rapid roll-out, during which it is expected to make adjustments to its store presentation and marketing.

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