US retail titan Wal-Mart has announced its plans to continue its aggressive expansion in the fiscal year beginning 1 February 2005.

Domestically, the Wal-Mart division plans to open approximately 40 to 45 new discount stores and 240 to 250 new Supercenters in the fiscal year. The company expects that relocations or expansions of existing discount stores will account for approximately 160 of those Supercenters, while the remainder will be new operating units for the company.

Wal-Mart said it anticipates expanding its Neighborhood Market concept by adding approximately 25 to 30 new units in the upcoming fiscal year.

The Sam's Club division anticipates it will open 30 to 40 domestic clubs, approximately 20 of which will be relocations or expansions of existing clubs.

Wal-Mart International plans to open 155 to 165 units in existing markets. The company expects that relocations or expansions of existing stores will account for approximately 30 of these units, while the remainder will be new operating units.

The company also plans to construct three new regional general merchandise distribution centres and three new food distribution centres during the next fiscal year.

"The planned square footage growth for the coming year represents approximately 55 million square feet of new retail space, and represents more than an 8% increase over the 655 million square feet we estimate we will have at the end of fiscal year 2005. We also plan to remodel approximately 360 stores and clubs in the next year," said president and CEO Lee Scott.

As well as the US, Wal-Mart operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United Kingdom. Wal-Mart also owns approximately 37% of Japanese retailer Seiyu, with warrants to purchase up to approximately 69% of that company by the end of December 2007.