(New throughout, adds details about plan, more comments from
SANTIAGO, March 22 Wal-Mart Stores Inc's
Chilean unit will invest $800 million in the country over the
next three years and open 55 to 60 new supermarkets, the company
said on Wednesday, a significant outlay at a time of slow
As part of the plan, the retail and supermarket chain will
also remodel over 50 stores, add more than 5,000 jobs, and
further develop a large distribution center near the capital
city of Santiago.
"We are confident in the future potential of the country,
and we are convinced that spaces exist to continue expanding our
low-cost model," Walmart Chile general manager Horacio Barbeito
said in a statement.
"Both in the high and low moments of the economic cycle,
consumers are always interested in using their budget
efficiently, and this will continue being our focus."
Chile's economy has struggled in recent years amid low
prices for key export copper and lagging business confidence.
Gross domestic product in the fourth quarter contracted 0.4
percent from the prior quarter, worse than forecast, and
first-quarter 2017 figures will be affected by a work stoppage
at Chile's largest mine.
In its statement, Wal-Mart said the expansion plan will
focus on medium-sized stores, such as the company's Express de
Lider and Super Bodega aCuenta formats.
The distribution center is already under construction and
will require 2,000 employees and $180 million in investment, the
The company said it will also seek to improve its online
department. Online retail has been on the rise in parts of Latin
America in recent years, and other Chilean retailers such as
Falabella and Cencosud have invested
significant sums in this area.
(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and