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BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Walmart is accelerating its efforts to better service Hispanic shoppers in the U.S. with plans to open new small-format "supermercado" stores, as well as a Latino-focused version of its Sam’s Club warehouse concept this year.
According to a report by the Financial Times, the world’s largest retailer will open its first Hispanic-focused supermarkets this summer in Phoenix and Houston, within two remodeled 39,000-square-foot locations that previously housed Walmart Neighborhood Market stores.
Located in "strongly Hispanic neighborhoods," the Supermercado de Walmart stores will feature a "new layout, signing and product assortment designed to make them even more relevant to local Hispanic customers," said the retailer. The staff will be bilingual.
The new Más Club, a Hispanic version of Walmart’s Sam’s Club, will be 143,000 square feet and open in Houston this year.
Eduardo Castro-Wright, the head of Walmart's U.S. stores since 2005, has been an advocate of testing new smaller, more focused formats, and raised the idea of turning the Neighborhood Market into a Hispanic-style bodega concept several years ago, according to the Times.
He is also credited with developing Walmart's efforts to customize its larger Supercenter stores, which have been grouped according to differing community profiles, such as urban, suburban, Hispanic and African-American, with customized merchandise.
A 195,000-square-foot Supercenter that opened in Texas last year included a tortilleria bakery, Hispanic foods and a larger selection of Spanish-language music and DVDs, according to the report.
Castro-Wright was previously head of Walmart's Mexican subsidiary, whose store network ranges from large U.S.-style Supercenters to small local bodegas, an upmarket supermarket chain and two restaurant chains.
Last year, Walmart also began testing four new 10,000-square-foot Marketside convenience grocery stores in the Phoenix area—its first new format in a decade. Tesco, the U.K. retailer, also has more than 25 of its small Fresh & Easy markets in the Phoenix area.