US retail giant Wal-Mart has refused to comment on rumours that it is planning to make a bid for market share in Australia. However, the world’s largest retailer told just-food today (7 August), the company has its targets set on international expansion.
Ray Bracy of Wal-Mart’s international office told just-food: “We have been looking at international growth for a number of years, both through Greenfield and bolt-on acquisitions.”
Reports in the Australian press have linked Wal-Mart to a possible bid for Australia’s struggling number two grocery chain Coles, rumours that Coles has strongly denied. Unveiling a restructuring plan that it is hoped will give the supermarket group a much-needed boost, Coles CEO John Fletcher said he was unaware of any interest from Wal-Mart.
Meanwhile, it has also been suggested that Wal-Mart already owns a small stake in Woolworths, Australia’s largest supermarket operator. However, neither Woolworths nor Wal-Mart are able to confirm the rumour.
Woolworths chief executive Roger Corbett told Australian daily the Sydney Herald: “I frankly don’t know whether Wal-Mart has got a small stake or not. I don’t think they have but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. Anyone can have a stake in anyone else.
Likewise, Wal-Mart’s Bracy seemed equally unaware of any such holding: “I am not aware of that. Certainly we don’t have a management position and I am unaware that we hold any Woolworths stock.”