Wal-Mart owned Asda, Britain's number three supermarket group (after Tesco and Sainsbury), is to launch a £450 million new store programme that will see the opening of thirteen additional outlets this year.

Branded Asda Wal-Mart, a purpose-built superstore is planned for Swindon, while £30m will be spent on the conversion of Asda’s existing Livingstone outlet into a similarly branded venture which, claim the supermarketeer, will be the largest in Scotland. Other new stores are planned for Bodmin, Dunstable, Cambridge, Leyton in East London and Sefton in Liverpool; while one in four of the chain’s remaining 234 UK outlets will be refurbished.

Says chief operating officer Paul Mason: “This record level of investment by Wal-Mart in the UK is in line with our strategy of market share growth.”

Mason also boasted that the strategy will create 5,000 new jobs – a claim at odds with the National Retail Planning Forum’s 1998 report showing a net global loss of 276 jobs for every new supermarket opened.

Wal-Mart has 4,000 stores worldwide.

News source: The Times (London)