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    Wal-Mart's Web Site for Marketside Gives Clues to Strategy

    The new format will launch this fall in four Arizona markets, as "a small community grocery store" with an understated connection to the Wal-Mart name.

    Wal-Mart yesterday confirmed the very open secret that it is launching a new small-format grocery concept on a new Web site for its Marketside, concept, and also affirmed its plan to open four units in Phoenix this fall.

    The stores will open in Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler, and Tempe, Ariz., according to the Web site, www.marketside.com.

    Testament to Wal-Mart's strategy to position this 15,000-square foot format as a departure from its previous established positioning, the Web site's references to the parent company are few and far between, other than a mention that Marketside is "a small community grocery store owned by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc."

    Instead it touts Marketside as a unique grocery store that "provides fresh, innovative answers to the daily question, 'What's for dinner tonight?'"

    Marketside's "unique product and shopping experience will change the way you shop for -- and think about -- fresh food, and our prices will keep you coming back," Wal-Mart says on the Web site.

    The concept promises to provide a wide selection of complete meal solutions, fresh ingredients, and everyday favorites, according to content on the site. It also boasts of associates who are "passionate about food -- and about delivering top-notch customer service," and who are prepared to address questions about topics such as locally grown foods.

    Analysts and industry watchers have said Wal-Mart's new format is tailored to compete with Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets, which are now located in Arizona, California, and Nevada.

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