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In the Maritimes, Supercentres are on their way


Some Walmart stores in the Maritimes could soon carry fresh groceries now that the retailer is getting set to roll out its Supercentre format to the region.

Walmart isn't yet saying where its first Maritime Supercentres will be located. But the Canadian division's director of corporate affairs, Alex Roberton, said Walmart has filed applications with municipalities in the region. Roberton said she could not provide more specific details. Some applications are still working their way through the government approvals process.

Atlantic Canada is the last major region in the country without a Supercentre.

The format–which carries fresh groceries such as produce and meat–was introduced to Canada in 2006. After opening stores in Ontario and the West, Walmart introduced the Supercentre to Quebec in 2011.

Last year was Walmart's biggest expansion year to date in Canada, with the retailer spending some $750 million to add 4.6 million square feet of floor space. That included 73 new-store openings, expansions and conversions. Thirty-nine of those construction projects were to turn former Zellers stores into Walmarts.

Walmart expects to announce its 2013 expansion plans after its fiscal year ends Jan. 31. Presumably, Walmart's first Maritime Supercentres will be in major centres, such as Halifax-Dartmouth and Moncton.

Walmart doesn't necessarily have to build new stores either. As it has elsewhere, Walmart can retrofit or add onto its existing stores.

Roberton said that grocery is now a big part of Walmart Canada's growth strategy. “We look at all the stores across the country and determine which ones are well suited for expansion to include grocery.”

To date, more than half of Walmart’s stores offer a full complement of grocery.

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