US retailer Walmart has announced its closing 296 stores including all 102 stores under its smaller convenience format, Walmart Express.

The closures follow a review undertaken by the company in October 2015 of nearly 11,600 stores worldwide. The impacted stores include 154 locations in the US, including Walmart Express, and 115 international stores. The stores are understood to make up less than 1 per cent of both global square footage and revenue. Around 16,000 staff will be impacted by the decision, about 10,000 of them in the US.

Walmart began piloting Express stores in 2011, designed as a hybrid between food, pharmacy and convenience store, with some also operating fuel stations.

Doug McMillon, president and CEO, Walmart Stores Inc, said the closures were necessary to keep the company strong and positioned for the future.

“It’s important to remember that we’ll open well more than 300 stores around the world next year. So we are committed to growing, but we are being disciplined about it,” McMillon said.

Walmart said it will now focus on strengthening its Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets stores, growing the e-commerce business and expanding pickup services. Despite the closures, Walmart plans to open 50 to 60 Supercenters and 85 to 95 Neighborhood Markets in fiscal 2017, which begins Feburary 1. Internationally, Walmart intends to open between 200 and 240 stores during the coming year.

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