Will Walmart Lose Its Spot as No. 1 Global Retailer?

24/7 Wall St.

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It seems impossible that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), with more than 2 million employees worldwide and global sales of $470 billion, could ever be dethroned as the number one retailer in the world. However, another large retail company claims it can do just that.

According to The Wall Street Journal:

Fast Retailing Co. Chief Executive Tadashi Yanai said the Japanese company can overtake its fast-fashion rivals to become the world’s largest retailer by 2020 even without acquisitions.

“I believe we can be on our way to number one in the world,” said Mr. Yanai. “I am very positive about our organic growth.”

Yanai is doing little more than dreaming — probably. His belief that organic growth is enough to make Fast Retailing much larger is unlikely. So, it may be, if he has a shot to reach his goal, it will have to be through M&A activity — or perhaps through growth in the world’s most populous nation — China

The Wall Street Journal also reports that Fast Retailing plans to have 1,000 stores in China by 2020. That by itself could lift the company’s revenue by tens of billions of dollars a year. But China by itself will not get Yanai to his goal. The company will not have a large presence in the United States, which far outruns China in consumer spending. There have been rumors that Fast Retailing will buy J. Crew. By itself, that would not be a big enough move to get it much of a footprint in America.

Beyond its China operations, Fast Retailing will have to take the huge risk of M&A activity to get it deeper into America. It will be difficult to find a company that is “affordable.” That is, unless Fast Retailing is willing to face the long odds of buying a deeply troubled retailer like Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) or J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (JCP). Each is available for a small ratio of market value to revenue. But, each is considered beyond repaid.

Filed under: Retail Tagged: JCP, SHLD, WMT

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