Wal-Mart expansion not a threat: Chamber

Wal-Mart is planning to open up to 40 new supercentres in Canada.
Photo Credit: Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart’s latest plans to increase its store count in Canada shouldn’t worry local Winnipeg retailers, the city’s Chamber of Commerce says.

Wal-Mart Canada isn’t saying whether or not Winnipeg will see any of the up to 40 new supercentres the giant retailer is planning to build across Canada in 2010.

However, one Wal-Mart source said the St. Vital location will undergo renovations as part of the plan.

Wal-Mart announced the plans Feb. 23 and the supercentres live up to their name.

At 100,000-plus square-feet, the sprawling stores put groceries and general merchandise under the same roof.

And even if more of these stores are announced for Winnipeg, local mom and pop shops shouldn’t feel threatened, said Chuck Davidson, vice-president of communications at the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

“I don’t think mom and pop stores realistically think they’re competing against large global company,” he said.

This is true, said Mike Wolchock, store manager of Pollock’s Hardware Co-Op Ltd.

The key to keeping up with box-store retail boom, is solidifying their niche market, Wolchock said.

“(Wal-Mart) appeals to a client that’s all about saving money. We deal with clientele that’s about serving,” Wolchock said. “We can’t compete with them in price so we’re forced to do something different. We sell all the stuff that Wal-Mart doesn’t sell.

“So we don’t worry about what Wal-Mart does. People that shop there don’t shop here,” he said.

Wal-Mart pegs its Canadian construction investment around the $115 million mark and will create up to 6,500 jobs, a trickle effect that can only benefit the city, Davidson said.

“Any company that wants to bring jobs to the city is welcomed,” he said.

Davidson added that Wal-Mart may be looking at getting more space in the Kenaston Commons, where Winnipeg’s future IKEA store will be.

Winnipeg has six Wal-Mart locations. The new additions will push its store count to 325 across Canada.

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Matt Preprost of Red River College

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