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International News: Walmart Enters Convenience Store Market in China

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Walmart Stores Inc. recently launched a pilot program to open convenience stores in China, seeking to boost its presence in one of the world's fastest growing retail markets, according to a Reuters report.

The company opened three c-stores in December in the south China city of Shenzhen, under the program in a low-key initiative. Walmart will observe market acceptance and customer preferences for the stores, named "Smart Choice" (or Hui Xuan in Chinese), before deciding on future development plans, a company spokeswoman said. She would not give any details about the business performance of the three stores so far.

An unnamed company source was quoted by Chinese media saying Walmart plans to open 100 of the convenience stores across China this year, and up to 1,000 stores in five years, according to the Reuters report. The company now operates 227 outlets and employs more than 70,000 workers in China, according to its Web site.

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