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Wal-Mart to slow growth of supercenters


At shareholders meeting, CEO says attacks by critics 'are just not working'






FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart will scale back the number of planned U.S. superstore openings this year by more than 25 percent in an effort to focus more on existing stores, company executives said Friday.


The decision comes as Wal-Mart is facing sagging sales growth and difficulties in expanding its sales of apparel and hom decor items. Wal-Mart said the simproving service and offerings at existing stores and reduce cannibalization of existing stores.


Wal-Mart will open 190 to 200 new supercenters in the current 2008 fiscal year, rather than the 265 to 270 it originally had announced. The company plans to open about 170 supercenters annually in future years.


The announcement was made at the company's annual shareholders meeting, where Chief Executive Officer Lee Scott called the slowdown a way to make existing stores more productive and profitable and grow overall sales.


The decision, which will cut capital spending to $15.5 billion this year from a previously announced $17 billion, helped send the company's shares higher in New York Stock Exchange trading. The company also announced a $15 billion stock repurchase plan.


"We're committed to providing a better return, not only return on investment but return to our shareholders," said Chief Financial Officer Tom Schoewe.


Wal-Mart executives, accustomed to being on the defensive, used the annual meeting as a platform to stake out a more offensive position, highlighting things they think are going well — and countering critics in those areas where they have faced the most pressure.








Who says internet activism doens't work... :)



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