Wal-Mart opens China convenience stores

SHANGHAI: Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has opened three convenience stores in China in a pilot project and may expand the business if it proves lucrative, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The roughly 300-square-metre (3,200-square-foot) stores are situated in residential areas in the southern city of Shenzhen, said Chen Lu, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.

"The convenience shops are still at the experimental stage, but we will consider opening more stores if there is market demand," she told AFP from Shenzhen.

"So far we do not have any detailed plans."

The company said it had not sought to publicise the stores, which opened in December, because it is still testing the new retail model.

Small corner stores mark new ground for Wal-Mart, whose hypermarket-style stores can range in size from 4,700 square metres to 21,000 square metres.

Wal-Mart entered China in 1996 and employs more than 50,000 people in its 147 main stores in the country.

The US discount titan's global net income fell to 3.79 billion dollars in the three months ended January 31, a 7.7 percent drop from 4.01 billion dollars a year earlier.

It did not release China-specific figures. But the company has said its net income in China was higher last year than in 2007.