Wal-Mart opens stores in China
Raymond Bracy, Wal-Mart China’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, said the new stores will create about 18,000 jobs and the company also plans more logistics facilities and Sam’s Club stores — a kind of warehouse shopping club with a membership system.
Speaking at the opening of a fourth store in Guiyang, capital city of southwest China’s Guizhouprovince, Bracy said Wal-Mart is very optimistic about the growth of the Chinese market, especially in the west of the country.
Though China’s western provinces remain relatively poor compared to coastal provinces in the east, the growth of the market in the western region over the past few years has been robust. Bracy pointed to an expanding middle class being encouraging for Wal-Mart.
He also noted that Wal-Mart would push for development of e-commerce, the retail giant’s purchase of a majority stake in Chinese e-commerce company Yihaodian having been approved by regulators in August.
Since its entry into China in 1996, Wal-Mart has opened 384 stores in 147 cities and partnered with nearly 20,000 local suppliers.
Walmart will be a major emerging market health care provider
These are starting with stores in the United States, where Walmart already offers some vaccines. The plans are to increase the number of vaccines now available at Walmart stores in the United States to ten.
Walmart has health clinics in 150 stores, and has been gradually expanding its products and services in the health care arena. Its $4 generic drug special has been very well received. Obviously the current vaccine program the company offers has been successful or it would not be expanding the service.
There are many other goods and services Walmart offers emerging market consumers in the provision of health care. Over-the counter drugs are obvious. Vitamins, supplements, tooth paste, and other items that can be purchased without a doctor’s prescriptions are other health care products.
Legendary investor Warren Buffett just reduced his position in Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, quote), a major drug and health care concern, by two-thirds. Over the same period, he beefed up his holdings in Walmart. A factor contributing to this is the growth in consumer demand around the world for cheaper generic goods. That is certainly Walmart’s strength.
Walmart is well positioned to capture the growth in consumer spending in emerging markets. By 2025, this is expected to amount to $30 trillion according to global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Not only will that be about half the world’s consumer spending, much of it will be for health care goods and services as the more affluent a society becomes, the more it spends on health care needs.
As Walmart expands its health care goods and services, it will become more of a “one stop” shopping destination. That is why the world’s largest retailer started selling groceries in 1988. With the middle class in emerging markets expanding, so is consumer spending on healthcare, with much of it happening at Walmart.