Australian supermarket operator Woolworths needs to improve efficiencies if it is to progress on the global stage, according to a director of US retail giant Wal-Mart.

“As lean as they are, I keep telling them they could be even better and that doesn’t mean you take people away from the checkouts at the store and the people out of the meat department, it means that the efficiencies of the process can be improved,” Wal-Mart’s Jack Shewmaker told Channel Nine in Australia.

Shewmaker also said that expanding to the US was not advisable for Woolworths at the moment.

“I don’t think it is a viable growth option right now with the hyper competition there, but frankly you could take Woolies supermarkets and put it down in the USA and it would compete very efficiently,” he was quoted by the Australian Associated Press as saying.  

Shewmaker denied any market rumours that Woolworths was a potential takeover target for Wal-Mart.

“…There are no plans that I know to buy Woolies or anyone else in Australia and I am chairman of the strategic planning committee,” he said.