Walmart Inc. plans to expand its members-only warehouse chain, Sam’s Club, in China to 100 stores in the next eight years as it embarks on an ambitious growth plan after the coronavirus pandemic.
The local unit of the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company told employees about the goal in a townhall meeting on Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified as they are not authorized to speak publicly.
The retailing giant, which reported a blowout quarterly performance Tuesday, is one of the few winners of the coronavirus crisis that has upended every aspect of modern life and hurt sectors from aviation to luxury. As governments worldwide impose lockdowns and social distancing measures, consumers are panic-buying household essentials and also cooking at home more, boosting Walmart’s sales across the globe.
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Walmart currently operates 26 Sam’s Club outlets in China. Unlike its no-frills, bulking-buying approach in the U.S., the Chinese version of the chain sells higher-end, imported groceries to middle-class consumers.
With increasingly affluent Chinese wanting higher-quality offerings, revenue at Sam’s Clubs has grown at a faster pace than the company’s separate network of over 400 Walmart stores selling basic groceries locally. Rival Costco Wholesale Corp. opened its first outlet in China in August to frenzied crowds and is planning its third store.
A Walmart Chi...