Seiyu, the Japanese partner of leading global retailer Wal-Mart, is to spend US$162m to set up a computerised link between all its stores in Japan and the Wal-Mart system.

The system covers inventory, sales and purchasing functions. Despite the initial investment required to set up the link, costs should come through once it is up and running.

The implementation will kick off in December this year, Seiyu vice president Teiji Sugimoto told AP. A pilot project is already in place in 76 stores, and the link-up will be rolled out to all 400 stores by 2007.

The system not only links stores to each other, and to other functions within the system; it also has the potential to link stores to global suppliers.

Wal-Mart owns a 37% stake in Seiyu.