Details of Wal-Mart's Small Format Emerge

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Details of Wal-Mart's Small Format Emerge

02/03/2008
By Mehgan Belanger

This year, Wal-Mart will open small-format grocery stores in Arizona under the trade name Marketside, in what looks like an obvious attempt to compete with Tesco's new Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets that are rolling out in the area, the Financial Times reported.

Wal-Mart secured leases on four plots southeast of Phoenix, some only a mile from Tesco's 10,000-square-foot Fresh & Easy locations, according to the report. Wal-Mart's new pilot stores, at about 20,000 square feet, will be one-tenth of the size of its Supercenters.

The stores are likely to be open by the summer, and are the first new concept launched by the retailer in the United States in a decade, according to the report. The concept is being developed as the company slows its planned growth of Supercenters.

Wal-Mart declined to give details of the new stores to the Financial Times, but compared them to its existing Neighborhood Markets. Those 35,000-square-foot stores are used as fill-ins between Supercenters, the report stated.

"We trial and test a lot of new formats, and this would be an example of that," the company told the FT.

The new logo, which has been filed in planning documents in Arizona, consists of green lettering with a stylized tomato, egg and grape topped by a Wal-Mart blue star, the report stated. The retailer also registered a number of trade names in recent months, such as City Thyme and Field & Vine, which some industry analysts suggest could be used for private label, fresh food offerings, according to the report.

The four locations are street-corner properties formerly occupied by drug stores. The company also applied for wine and beer licenses for stores in Gilbert, Tempe and Mesa, Ariz., and has additional leases in Chandler, Ariz.

For comments, contact Mehgan Belanger, Associate Editor, at [email protected].