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    Wal-Mart Announces Supercenter Plans for California

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced on Wednesday its plans to open as many as 40 Wal-Mart Supercenters in California over the next four to six years. Specific locations and dates were not announced.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced on Wednesday its plans to open as many as 40 Wal-Mart Supercenters -- stores that combine full grocery lines and general merchandise under one roof -? in California over the next four to six years. Specific locations and dates were not announced.

    "Wal-Mart is committed to lowering the price of groceries for California consumers, just as we have for consumers around the country," said Tom Coughlin, president and CEO of the Wal-Mart Stores division. "For years, our California customers have benefited from our every day low prices on general merchandise. Soon, they'll be able to enjoy every day low prices on groceries, too."

    In California, Wal-Mart currently operates 125 stores that carry a broad assortment of general merchandise. Supercenters offer approximately 100,000 different items, 30,000 of which are grocery items, and they may include specialty shops such as vision centers, Tire & Lube Expresses, Radio Grill restaurants, portrait studios and one-hour photo centers.

    In addition to its 125 California stores, Wal-Mart operates 29 SAM'S CLUBS and three distribution centers (including an import center) in California.

    California, the most populous U.S. state, is a key market for the three top traditional grocers, with No. 1 Kroger having 19 percent of its store-base there, No. 2 Albertson's having 30 percent, and No. 3 Safeway with about 37 percent, according to Robert Summers, a supermarket industry analyst at Banc of America Securities, as reported by Reuters.

    He noted that Wal-Mart had recently announced plans to build a distribution facility in Washington state, possibly to service its West Coast units.

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