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    Wegmans, Wal-Mart Step Up Expansion Plans

    Wegmans is boosting its presence in the Washington, D.C. area, while Wal-Mart targets Massachusetts.

    Both Wegmans Food Markets and Wal-Mart getting ready to expand in different regions, according to published reports: Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans is opening more stores in the Washington, D.C. area, and Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart is aggressively moving into Massachusetts.

    Wegmans signed a deal in December to occupy 140,000 square feet in Springfield, Va. and is considering Germantown, Md. for its first Montgomery County store, which will measure more than 100,000 square feet, spokeswoman Jo Natale told the Washington Business Journal.

    The 72-store chain, which also operates stores in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, hasn't set an opening date for either location, but Wegmans normally opens two to three stores annually, according to Natale, who said the store was encouraged to look at additional sites in the area because of the success of its existing Virginia and Maryland stores.

    Wegmans currently has four stores in the region, in Fairfax, Sterling, Woodbridge and Gainesville, Va. The most recent one, a 140,000-square-foot location in Gainesville, opened Nov. 2. Additional stores are planned for Leesburg, Va. and Landover, Crofton and Frederick, Md.

    Meanwhile, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., is looking to do double its business in the Bay State, The Boston Globe reported. The mega-retailer's building blitz includes a Supercenter slated for Worcester and the planned addition of markets to stores in Halifax, Hudson, Oxford, Salem, Springfield and Swansea. Additionally, a grocery addition already being built at a North Attleborough location is expected to be completed in the fall.

    Despite a history of local resistance and limited real estate in Massachusetts, Wal-Mart is seeking further locations in the state as the economic recession causes consumers to turn increasingly toward bargain outlets for groceries and other items. The company said that its current projects would create 700 Massachusetts jobs.

    "We're not facing the same level of opposition that we once did, given the economy, and the job we've done as a company to better explain ourselves to the community," Christopher N. Buchanan, a Wal-Mart senior manager of public affairs and government relations, told the newspaper.

    The company has also taken such actions as working with Worcester's residents and environmental groups to address their concerns and organizing support with the creation of the 60,000-strong New England Customer Action Network.

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