Wal-Mart Stores has opened its first urban Wal-Mart Express store in the city of Chicago.

The company said the 10,000 square-foot Chatham Market store offers convenient access for fill-in and stock up shopping trips and features fresh groceries, pharmacy, consumables, heath and beauty aids, over-the-counter medicines and more.

Wal-Mart said the store emphasises the importance of the Chicago market to the company. It has also announced plans to open a further 10 stores in the city over the next two years, with four of those stores to be Express format stores.

Last year, Wal-Mart said it planned to open “several dozen” stores in Chicago over the next five years. It said the plan will help “”eradicate food deserts and stimulate local economic development”.

“Given our long-standing desire to open multi-format stores here, it’s appropriate that the first urban Walmart Express is in Chicago,” said Wal-Mart senior vice president Julie Murphy yesterday. “As we move forward with new stores across the city, we will remain focused on creating economic opportunity and helping to lower the price of groceries and other everyday items for all Chicagoans.”

The retailer began testing the Express format in June this year in north-west Arkansas. This year, it plans to open 30-40 small format stores, which will be a mix of Wal-Mart Express and Wal-Mart Market stores.

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The company hopes the new store format will revitalise sales in the North American market which has been lacklustre in recent years, with the division posting consecutive quarters of negative like-for-like growth.