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Jul 20, 2020

Walmart Canada investing $3.5B over five years in 'smarter stores'

Walmart investing $3.5 billion in Canada

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MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- Walmart Canada plans to invest $3.5 billion over the next five years with a focus on technology to make so-called "smarter stores."

“Everywhere we operate we realize that partnering with entrepreneurs – in some cases start-ups, in some cases well-established companies – makes us better and complements our [offerings],” Walmart Canada President and CEO Horacio Barbeito told BNN Bloomberg’s Paul Bagnell in a television interview Monday.

Barbeito added the company is looking to add new self-checkout stations that would allow bigger baskets, as changing consumer trends see more shoppers stocking up on grocery items.

“We’re very encouraged on working with partners that bring disruption, agility to our business,” he said. “So we invite local companies to contact us as we keep on looking for opportunities to better serve our customers.”

The spending includes $1.1 billion to build two new distribution centres in Vaughan, Ont., and Surrey, B.C., as well as to renovate an existing facility in Cornwall, Ont.

The investment will create hundreds of construction jobs in Canada and forge partnerships with Canadian high-tech companies, Walmart Canada said.

It said it will also renovate 150 stores, or more than one-third of its total network of more than 400 stores in the country, over the next three years.

It plans to accelerate digitization to make its stores smarter, which will include expanding electronic shelf labels and shelf scanners to monitor product volumes.

Walmart Canada will revamp checkouts with larger self-checkouts, as well as giving employees technology to allow customers to check out items from anywhere in the store.

The company said it will also expand robotics and computer vision cameras, which will help with efficiency and accuracy.

Walmart Canada also aims to offer a complete merchandise pick-up service at about 270 branches, or 70 per cent of its locations in Canada, by the end of this year.

It will pilot what it called hybrid locations that have micro fulfilment centres in an effort to increase pickup and delivery order speeds.

The investment will ensure Walmart Canada develops an enviable supply chain, said John Bayliss, senior vice-president of logistics and supply chain, in a statement.

"The better the supply chain, the quicker our customers can get the products they want."

With files from BNN Bloomberg