On March 1, 2004, Wal-Mart announced that it was expanding its holdings in Brazil by buying that country’s third-largest supermarket chain, Bompreco, for $300 million from Dutch supermarket giant Ahold. Ahold is also the 7th. largest grocery chain in the U.S., with 2003 sales of $27 billion — still dwarfed by number 1 grocer, Wal-Mart, with $136 billion in sales. The deal boosts Wal-Mart from the sixth largest retailer in Brazil to the third largest. Bompreco’s 118 stores, with sales of roughly $1.17 billion in 2003, will give Wal-Mart its first stores in the less-affluent northeast Brazil. Wal-Mart already operates 25 stores, but they are located in the large southern cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. In addition to $300 million for Bompreco, Wal-Mart also paid $200 million to buy the Hipercard credit card. Bompreco will give Wal-Mart another 20,000 workers to underpay.
At the end of its 2003 operating year, Wal-Mart announced sales of $41 billion from its international stores. The company had at the time 300,000 foreign workers. In 2003, Wal-Mart opened 115 stores in seven countries. In many ways, the global market for Wal-Mart is more promising than the U.S. market, where locations become harder and harder to secure, and opposition to new stores continues to plague the company. Wal-Mart enters most foreign countries by acquiring existing companies. This is what they have done in Canada, Mexico, Germany, Britain, Japan, and China. Many of these stores will carry the logo of Asda, Superama, Bompreco, or Seiyu, but they are owned by Wal-Mart. The U.S. retailer represents the largest form of retail colonialism in the world today.