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    Aeon to Give Wal-Mart a Run for Its Money in Japan

    TOKYO - Aeon Co. Ltd., Asia's biggest retailer, said yesterday that it intends to open more Wal-Mart-style supercenters, starting in 2006, due to the store's growing popularity with value-minded Japanese consumers.

    TOKYO - Aeon Co. Ltd., Asia's biggest retailer, said yesterday that it intends to open more Wal-Mart-style supercenters, starting in 2006, due to the store's growing popularity with value-minded Japanese consumers.

    According to published reports, Aeon, which currently has seven supercenters, plans to have 100 by 2010 to compete more effectively in Japan with Wal-Mart Stores. Wal-Mart owns a 38 percent stake in Seiyu, Ltd., which has 402 stores in Japan.

    "In the current market, where customers have a wide variety of tastes, supercenters have gained in popularity," said Aeon spokesman Tadayoshi Kumagai. "We'd like to open more supercenters from 2006 after we watch how things go until next year."

    Kumagai added that the company wants to open more than 10 supercenters each year following 2006.

    Aeon now directly operates 375 stores in Japan, but its subsidiaries run more than 1,000 Talbots stores in the United States and 40 supermarkets in Southeast Asia.

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