Wal-Mart to close 154 U.S. stores including 29 in Texas

Wal-Mart is closing 269 stores, more than half of them in the U.S.
Wal-Mart is closing 269 stores, more than half of them in the U.S. Bloomberg

Wal-Mart is doing some rare pruning.

The world’s largest retailer is closing 269 stores, including 154 in the U.S. and all of its smallest-format stores called Wal-Mart Express. The other big chunk is in its challenging Brazilian market.

In Texas, 29 stores will close: 20 Express locations, four Supercenters and five Neighborhood Markets, including one at 2201 West Southlake Blvd. in Southlake. Neighborhood Markets in Dallas and Frisco will also close.

The targeted stores account for a fraction of the company’s 11,000 stores worldwide and less than 1 percent of its global revenue. Wal-Mart Stores said the store closures will affect 16,000 workers, 10,000 of them in the U.S. Its global workforce is 2.2 million, 1.4 million in the U.S. alone.

The closures will start at the end of the month.

The announcement comes three months after Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon told investors that the world’s largest retailer would review its fleet of stores with the goal of becoming more nimble in the face of increased competition from all fronts, including from online rival

“Actively managing our portfolio of assets is essential to maintaining a healthy business,” McMillon said in a statement. “Closing stores is never an easy decision. But it is necessary to keep the company strong and positioned for the future.”

Michael Exstein, an analyst at Credit Suisse, described the moves as “baby steps” in a report published Friday, but he believes they are positive ones. He noted that this is the first mass closing that Wal-Mart has announced in at least two decades.

“It is a sign that Wal-Mart has begun the process of dealing with unproductive locations in a much more tangible and coherent way,” he wrote. “But we continue to believe that Wal-Mart needs a much larger restructuring of its store base in order to narrow its focus as it seeks to improve its sales and returns, especially internationally.”

Wal-Mart has seen sales perk up in the last few quarters in the U.S. But it warned last October that its earnings for the next fiscal year will be down as much as 12 percent as it invests in online operations and pours money into improving customers’ experience in the stores. The company has been building bigger fulfillment centers devoted to e-commerce orders and expanding online services.

Among the stores closing in the U.S., there are 102 Express stores, 23 Neighborhood Markets and 12 Supercenters. Wal-Mart operates more than 4,500 stores in the U.S.

More than 95 percent of the stores set to be closed in the U.S. are within 10 miles of another Wal-Mart. The Bentonville, Ark., company said it is working to ensure that workers are placed in nearby locations.