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Wal-Mart: US retail giant to close 30 stores in Japan

Wal-Mart shopping carts Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wal-Mart is closing 7% of its stores in Japan

The world's largest retailer Wal-Mart is closing 30 stores in Japan, the company has announced.

The US retail chain said it would shut 30 underperforming stores to improve profitability of its business in the world's third largest economy.

The stores operate under the Seiyu brand and account for 7% of Wal-Mart's 434 stores in Japan.

News of the closures came after it cut its full-year profit forecast in August due to higher costs and investments.

The retailer also announced plans to re-model about 50 existing Japanese stores next year and invest in online shopping.

"The company will focus resources on driving continued strong performance in locations that are convenient for customers and allow for an improved shopping experience," Wal-Mart said in a statement.

Wal-Mart entered the Japanese market in 2002 through an investment in the then struggling Seiyu supermarket chain and ended up taking full control of the company six years later.

It had been expanding at a fast pace in the last two years, but Japanese shoppers have been slow to embrace Wal-Mart's low-cost model.

The retailer has also struggled to see growth in its US home market recently, reporting flat same-store sales in the second quarter - marking the sixth quarter of declines or no growth.

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