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Grocery a focus in Walmart's $175-million renovation project

Company is expanding its organic offering across Canada and growing East Asian fare at a supercentre in B.C.

is spending $175 million to modernize its store network, including expanding its organic and ethnic product assortment and creating what a spokesperson describes as a “seamless intersection” between its brick-and-mortar and online businesses

The company plans to renovate 23 of its stores–including 11 in Ontario and four in Alberta–before February 2019. In addition to wider aisles, an updated colour palette and new signage, the renovations also address the retail giant’s growing online business, with the addition of brightly painted pick-up areas and dedicated parking spots for online grocery shoppers.

They are the latest in a series of investments by Walmart in the online grocery space, including a pilot program with Instacart that offers one-hour delivery in parts of Toronto and Winnipeg, and expanding its grocery pickup service by 75 stores–bringing the total to 165 by year’s end.

The renovation program also includes the opening of a Walmart Supercentre in Burnaby, B.C. that features what the company describes as a “vast” East Asian food offering, with expanded assortments in meat, seafood and frozen food.

The Metrotown Walmart Supercentre will also carry Canadian No. 1 grade fruits and vegetables including B.C.-grown product and a selection of organics. Fresh meats will include Canadian Angus beef, chicken, pork and salmon.

Burnaby welcomed 16,065 immigrants between 2011 and 2016, according to a recent study funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, with immigrants representing 50.5% of its total population of just over 232,000. China accounts for 32.2% of Burnaby’s recent immigrants, followed by the Philippines (12.2%), India (6.8%) and South Korea (6.5%).

“Our customers are diverse and so are their needs and tastes,” says Walmart’s director of corporate affairs, Anika Malik. “Expanding our product assortment to meet the needs of the communities we serve is a key focus for Walmart Canada.” In addition to grocery, the store will also offer health and beauty products that cater to its local customers, says Malik.

Additionally, Walmart is growing its organic offering, which Malik says is experiencing double-digit growth on a year-over-year basis. “Our fresh offering continues to be an important part of our business, and we are continuously looking at ways to enhance our offering and the customer experience,” says Malik.

The company is also converting three stores in Newfoundland to the Supercentre concept, giving it a fresh grocery offering in every province. There are now 337 Supercentre stores in Canada, representing just over 80% of Walmart’s total store network.

Meanwhile, press reports earlier this week quoted Walmart spokesperson Diane Medeiros as saying that the company is conducting “preliminary fact-finding” on selling cannabis products, though she stressed it has no immediate plans to enter the business.



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