Thursday, May 6, 2010

Going Smaller & Getting 'Hybrid': Walmart's Smaller Supercenter in Vacant Retail Buildings Strategy Began in 2008

Pictured above is the once vacant big box store at 3948 McHenry Avenue in Modesto, California, formerly shared by SavMax Foods and a Rite-Aid drug store. Walmart converted the building into it's first smaller-size, "hybrid" supercenter. The Walmart store opened in fall 2008.

In a story in today's The Financial Times, "Walmart plans smaller version of supercenters," the paper reports: "Walmart, the largest US retailer, is planning to open a smaller scale version of its successful supercenter store format in the Los Angeles area, one of the first of a new breed of smaller stores that it hopes can deliver a new round of US growth."

The story says further: "The retailer has leased a 75,000 sq ft location in Torrance formerly occupied [vacant] by Mervyn’s, a regional department store chain that went bankrupt in 2008 as the US economy worsened. The site is less than half the size of most of Walmart’s successful supercenters, which average around 185,000 sq ft, and will sell groceries alongside general goods."

You can read the full story here.

All of this information is true.

However, what Walmart is doing, remodeling a vacant building and creating a smaller supercenter version, isn't anything new.

In the fall of 2008, Walmart opened what we call a "hybrid" supercenter in a 90,000-105,000 square-foot vacant big box building at 3848 McHenry Avenue in Modesto, California, in Northern California's Central Valley. The building was formerly the home of SavMax Foods, a now out of business Modesto-based groceery chain, and a Rite-Aid drug store. The Modesto store has about 75,000 -to- 85,000 square-feet of selling space, about the same as the future Torrance, California "hybrid" supercenter focused on in The Financial Times' story today.

We wrote about the Modesto, California "hybrid" supercenter and Walmart's plans to locate smaller supercenters in similar vacant buildings in other parts of California and elsewhere in the U.S. in detail back in April of 2008, in this piece: April 25, 2008: Going Smaller: Wal-Mart Might have Found A Solution or Two to Much of the Opposition to its Mega-Supercenter Stores in the USA.

We also wrote about the topic again a bit later here: June 27, 2008: Wal Mart Has Created A New, More Upscale Supercenter Store Design Prototype; Submitting Plans For the Stores Selectively in U.S.

We mentioned the smaller supercenter-vacant retail building strategy again in the three pieces below:

September 15, 2008: Wal-Mart Expanding its Discount Store-to-Supercenter Conversion Program As Part of its Strategy to Grab Even More Food and Grocery Sales Market Share

February 11, 2009: Tesco's Fresh & Easy Isn't the Only Food & Grocery Retailer With its Eyes on Bakersfield: Wal-Mart's Bakersfield Push and Central Valley, CA Strategy

May 16, 2009: Competitor News: Wal-Mart Clears First Major Hurdle For Proposed Mega-Distribution Center in Merced, CA; Chain's Regional Strategy Moving Forward (Also see the links to other posts at this piece.)

Lastly, we discuss Walmart's strategy and decision to build smaller than traditional supercenters in vacant retail buildings, along with related strategies and topics, in a number of the stories here. (Also note the links to additional stores in all of the links here and above.)

Walmart decided to use the smaller supercenter in vacant retail buildings approach as one of its strategies in early 2007. It opened the Modesto store, the first and currently the only "hybrid" supercenter located in a remodeled building unit in the U.S. we're aware of, in the fall of 2008.

We just thought Fresh & Easy Buzz readers would be interested.

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