Walmart will shutter 102 of its smaller stores, known as Walmart Express, as it looks to strengthen its Supercenters. The Bentonville, AR-based company will be closing 269 stores total, with 154 of those located in the United States.
The closures, part of a restructuring effort, will impact roughly 16,000 employees, with 10,000 of those in the U.S. The chain noted that "roughly 95 percent" of the stores closing in the U.S. were within 10 miles of another Walmart, so it hopes that affected workers will be able to find positions at other nearby stores.
"Closing stores is never an easy decision, but it is necessary to keep the company strong and positioned for the future," Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. "It's important to remember that we'll open well more than 300 stores around the world next year. So we are committed to growing, but we are being disciplined about it."
The smaller Walmart Express stores had been part of a pilot program from the company in effect since 2011. Opening these smaller stores, which at roughly 10,000 to 40,000 square feet were a fraction of the chain's typical location size, was meant to be part of a growth plan for Walmart.
Instead the company will pivot back to its bread and butter by strengthening its larger offerings. As the company looked into its growth plan for the next three years it found that customers who used the Walmart Express stores were still relying on the supercenters.
Walmart will look to build its Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets as well as its e-commerce business. According to its release, Walmart plans to open 50 to 60 Supercenters as well as 85 to 95 Neighborhood Markets in its fiscal 2017, which begins Feb. 1.
At the same time Walmart has plans to expand its sister discount brand, Sam's Club, by opening seven to 10 new locations. And internationally the company will add somewhere between 200 and 240 stores.