Asda owner Walmart to close 269 stores as it ditches Walmart Express, its smallest-format chain, five years after they launched

Emma Haslett
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Small-format stores are one of the fastest-growing sectors in the UK (Source: Getty)

Asda owner Walmart has announced plans to close 269 stores - and scrapped its experiment with small-format stores altogether five years after they first launched. It seems US consumers' buying habits are vastly different to their British counterparts'...

The supermarket giant - the world's largest company by number of employees, with 2.1m workers - said it was making the changes to "ensure assets were aligned with strategy". The company currently has almost 11,600 stores across the world.

In a statement today, it said 154 of the closures will take place in the US, with 60 in Brazil and 55 in other Latin American countries.

Read more: Is Tesco saved? A small victory for Dave Lewis

The lion's share of the US closures are Walmart Express stores, its smallest format.

Small-format stores have been one of the fastest-growing areas of grocery retailing in the UK, with Britons moving away from the weekly "big shop" to "nipping to the supermarket to grab some dinner"-style shopping. But Doug McMillon, Walmart's president and chief executive, said it returning its focus to its larger outlets.

"While we have learned a lot from this pilot, including a deeper understanding of the everyday needs of our customers, we have decided not to proceed with this offering. We feel we can better serve our customers by focusing on Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets and by investing in e-commerce and services like Pickup."

Walmart Express was unveiled in 2011.

Shares in the supermarket fell 2.33 per cent to $61.61 as the market opened in New York.

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