By Jonathan Birchall
Published: March 12 2009 18:03 | Last updated: March 12 2009 18:03
Wal-Mart plans to open its first Hispanic-focused supermarkets this summer in Arizona and Texas as the largest US retailer continues its drive to expand its dominance of the US grocery business.
The pilot stores, named Supermercado de Walmart, will open in Phoenix and Houston in remodelled 39,000 sq ft locations occupied previously by two of Wal-Mart’s Neighborhood Market stores.
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Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club warehouse store also plans to open a 143,000 sq ft Hispanic-focused store called Más Club in Houston this year.
Several leading regional US supermarket chains already operate Hispanic store brands, including Publix in Florida, which operates three Publix Sabor markets, and HEB in Texas, which opened a Mi Tienda store in Houston in 2006.
The markets include elements such as cafés serving Latino pastries and coffee, and full service meat and fish counters.
Leading retailers are also pursuing Hispanic consumers online, with Best Buy and Home Depot having launched Spanish-language versions of their e-commerce sites in recent months.
Eduardo Castro-Wright, the head of Wal-Mart’s US stores since 2005, has also been an advocate of testing new smaller, more focused formats, and raised the idea of turning the Neighbourhood Market into a Hispanic-style bodega concept several years ago.
He has also developed Wal-Mart’s efforts to customise its larger Supercenter stores, which have been grouped according to differing community profiles, such as urban, suburban, Hispanic and African-American, with customised merchandise.
A 195,000 sq ft Supercenter that opened in Texas last year included a tortilleria bakery, Hispanic foods and a larger selection of Spanish-language music and DVDs.
Mr Castro-Wright was previously head of Wal-Mart’s Mexican subsidiary, whose store network ranges from large US-style Supercenters to small local bodegas, an upmarket supermarket chain and two restaurant chains.
Last year, Wal-Mart also began testing four new 10,000 sq ft Marketside convenience grocery stores in the Phoenix area – its first new format in a decade. Tesco, the UK retailer, also has more than 25 of its small Fresh & Easy markets in the Phoenix area.
WELL MY THOUGHTS , in away, i hate to catter to them , but i dont see a store here in any near future, if it was it would be in a more populated area that has more construction where more are, but there are some here, anyway the up side is they may go there so i dont have to look at them, in my store,gee u think sam houston is turning over in his grave lol,, talk care,