Wal-Mart's Missing Spark

By Pallavi Gogoi

DICEY PROSPECTS ABROAD. While Wal-Mart struggles to expand in the U.S., it's charging into other countries, especially China, where it's going head-to-head with French retailing giant Carrefour. Wal-Mart has 3,700 stores serving a U.S. population of 280 million. In China, "we have a 46 stores in a country with 1.2 billion people. Do you think we have an opportunity? You bet we do," said Tom Schoewe, Wal-Mart's chief financial officer, at the annual meeting. The retailer plans to open up to 15 new stores in China by the end of 2005, compared to 325 new outlets in the U.S.

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