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BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart's newest supercenter, in McKinney, Texas, which opens today, will also serve as an experimental store, according to the world's largest retailer, which adds that the location "could profoundly change the way the retail industry designs, constructs, and manages facilities as it relates to the environment."
"We see it as a next step in evaluating the impact we leave on the environment as we look toward smart growth and sustainability in the building of our new stores," said Mike Duke, e.v.p. and c.e.o. of Wal-Mart Stores-USA, in a statement. "This store will contain many of the best resource conservation and sustainable design technologies currently available to minimize the use of energy and natural resources."
The McKinney store will experiment with materials, technology, and processes, with the goals of reducing the amounts of energy and natural resources required to operate and maintain stores, reducing the amount of raw materials needed to construct facilities, and substituting, when appropriate, the amount of renewable materials used to construct and maintain facilities.
Among the new location's environmental features are white roofs to help reflect heat and lower energy usage; a pervious pavement that allows infiltration of runoff into the soil below and permits cooler earth temperatures to cool the parking lot's surface; the planting of urban forest trees to provide shade, absorb carbon dioxide, and give oxygen back to the atmosphere; a 50-kilowatt wind turbine that reduces the consumption of electricity from the utility company, thus helping to lower the level of greenhouse gases; a radiant floor heating system; skylights and clerestories to allow daylight directly into the store; and the collection of condensation from refrigeration and air conditioning systems to help irrigate the landscaping.
The 206,000-square-foot location, which will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offers a full line of groceries, bakery goods, deli foods, meat and dairy products, and fresh produce; a Tire Lube and Express; a vision center; a portrait studio; a pharmacy; a one-hour photo lab; a family fun center; a branch of Woodforest National Bank; a Blimpie sandwich shop; a Smart Style hair salon; a Da Vi nail salon; and a Wal-Mart Connection Center for cellular phone sales. The store's relocation from an earlier site in McKinney has resulted in 86,000 additional square feet at the new store, as well as 178 of the supercenter's 450 mostly full-time associates.
"We want to make the best use of renewable and alternate sources like wind and solar energy to generate electricity to supplement the power needs of the store," said Don Moseley, Wal-Mart's experimental projects manager. "The store at McKinney will draw its energy first from on-site resources and systems, and then from conventional utility sources as a secondary service. For example, the waste cooking oil which had been used to fry chicken will be recycled by mixing it with used automotive oil from the Tire and Lube Express to serve as fuel to heat the building."
Wal-Mart has contracted with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to provide testing and analysis on store systems and materials, based on national scientific measurements and standards, for a period of three years.
"As the world's largest retailer, we are excited that we can lead the way in promoting the use of sustainable building and business practices in retail and the real estate development process," said Duke. "We will share our experiences with the industry, the general public and government agencies, and will apply best environmental practices to future Wal-Mart facilities."
According to Wal-Mart, it is the only U.S. company that has committed to offset its footprint -- past, present, and future -- for land conservation, by preserving an acre of wildlife habitat for every developed acre of its footprint. Additionally, Wal-Mart has a program in place to help find new uses for every store it vacates, and last year the company recycled 2.8 million tons of cardboard, 9,416 tons of plastic, 262 million aluminum cans, glass containers and plastic bottles, and 49 million disposable cameras.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Tara Stewart told Progressive Grocer, "One other [experimental store] is scheduled to open later this year in Aurora, Colo."
In other Wal-Mart news, the company will exceed $300 billion in sales this year, according to published reports. In a presentation at a consumer growth conference in Boston yesterday, Wal-Mart s.v.p. of finance Jay Fitzsimmons and new e.v.p. and c.m.o. John Fleming discussed Wal-Mart's expansion plans and new marketing initiatives.
Fleming, who formerly headed up the retailer's Internet operations, said Wal-Mart will begin a new marketing plan in 2006 that will drive growth by focusing on more lifestyle-oriented messages -- positioning Wal-Mart as a destination for high-quality, trend-right goods. "In the next six months, there will be changes in how advertising looks, as well as signage and visual merchandising" in the stores, said Fleming, according to reports of the event.
Wal-Mart’s previously outlined aggressive store-growth plans for the current fiscal year include:
-- 40 to 45 new traditional discount stores in the United States
-- 240 to 250 new supercenters in the United States
-- 155 to 165 new units in existing international markets, while speculation abounds that the retailer will enter new foreign markets later this year, such as Russia and Italy.
Separately, the U.K. trade magazine The Grocer reported that Wal-Mart-owned ASDA has been granted permission to develop new stores on four sites in Northern Ireland. Three of the stores will replace existing Safeway outlets that ASDA bought from Morrisons in June 2005.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart Stores, supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam's Clubs locations in the United States, as well as operating stores in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.