BENTONVILLE, Arkansas: Wal-Mart is responding to a retail invasion by maurauding Brits, with the opening a number of small-scale grocery stores in Arizona.

The world's biggest retailer is launching the venture branded Marketside in direct competition with the UK's number one supermarket firm, Tesco. The latter is currently rolling out its Fresh & Easy discount grocery stores across the western USA.

Wal-Mart's move into smaller outlets circumvents planning regulations that require public consultation for its huge supercenters, which are plagued by union-backed political opposition.

Its four new Arizona marts, sited in former corner drug-stores, are likely to open in the summer, some of them just a mile from their Tesco rival.

Wal-Mart is keeping details under wraps but it is thought the format of the new ventures will put emphasis on fresh produce.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff