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SHENZHEN, China - Wal-Mart announced here today that it would hold its annual worldwide board of directors' meeting in the Chinese mainland for the first time, the Xinhua News Agency reports. Shenzhen City in southern China's Guandong Province will be the location of the meeting. The first Wal-Mart in the Chinese Mainland opened in 1996.
According to Wal-Mart chairman Samuel Robson Walton, China has double importance for the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant, because the country has been for many years a major supplier of quality goods and is now a market with a great deal of potential. Walton added that board members should go to China in person to observe its Wal-Mart stores and the Chinese market.
The company has opened 35 outlets in 17 Chinese cities -- 30 supermarkets, three Sam's Clubs, and two community stores -- with a total of 18,000 workers. The date of the board meeting has yet to be determined.
Also today, Wal-Mart announced that February sales at U.S. stores open at least a year increased 6.2 percent, more than its original forecast, as improved weather and generous tax refunds resulted in more spending. The company predicted that sales will go up 4 percent to 6 percent this month. Shares of Wal-Mart increased 81 cents to $60.36 yesterday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Wal-Mart's shares have jumped 14 percent this year.