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BENTONVILLE, AR-Already the largest retailer in the world, Wal-Mart is dramatically cutting its capital expenditure budget for 2008, opening 600 new locations worldwide in an effort to match expansion with sales increases.

The company predicted that its fiscal 2008 capital spending will increase by about 2% to 4%, compared with a 15% to 20% increase for fiscal 2007. The expansion will add about 60 million square feet to Wal-Mart’s worldwide portfolio, about a 7.5% increase.

“We are still very committed to growth, but our real estate projects are now being subjected to a more rigorous prioritization process,” said Wal-Mart Vice Chairman John Menzer in a statement. “This store selection process will enable the company to drive higher returns by focusing on locations that make the most efficient use of capital.”

By segment, the company plans to open between 265 and 270 Supercenters, five to 10 discount stores, 15 to 20 Neighborhood Markets and 20 to 30 Sam’s Clubs in the United States, and between 305 and 330 units internationally.

International square footage is expected to rise approximately 10%, and US square footage will grow by about 7.5%, said Tom Schoewe, Wal-Mart Stores executive vice president and CFO, in the same statement.<P."Supercenters will continue to be our primary driver for expansion in the United States," Schoewe said. "Internationally, our unit growth will cover a wide variety of formats, from large units like Wal-Mart Supercenters and Sam's Clubs, to smaller retail locations like Despensa Familiar in Wal-Mart Central America, Bodega Aurrera in Mexico, and Bompreco in Brazil."

Wal-Mart operates in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.

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