With its international division showing the greatest future growth potential, Wal-Mart’s global appetite hopes to make sushi of the Japanese economy by taking over a second Japanese retailer, this time a struggling supermarket chain known as Daiei. The Arkansas retailer already controls a dominate position in Seiyu, which controls roughly 400 stores nationwide. Wal-Mart’s conquest over Daiei would bring the company’s total outlets to 600. The acquisition of indigenous stores is how Wal-Mart metastasizes in forein bodies. As in England, Germany, Mexico, and other countries, Wal-Mart enters under the cover of a local logo. Daiei is clearly a wounded company, under government-supervised rehabilitation. A Wal-Mart spokesman in Toyko told the Associated Press that her company was interested in international growth, and looking for opportunities. This Daiei story came up months ago, but it is cropping up again this week, as Wal-Mart faces competition from some Japanese companies as well. Ito-Yokado and Aeon, both are interested in acquiring Daiei. Wal-Mart has been in Japan for two years now, since it bought its first shares of Seiyu, which it subsequently expanded.
I had a visit from a delegation of Japanese businessmen in the mid 1990s, worried because their government was easing restrictions on foreign investors, and large scale buildings. They were right to be concerned. In 2001, my book “Slam Dunking Wal-Mart” was translated into Japanese. Ironically, if Wal-Mart gains more control over the Japanese market, they can continue to flood the country with Chinese imports, challenging the old notion of everything being “Made in Japan.” For earlier stories on this topic, search Newsflash by “Japan.”