Gaston Wainstein
Senior Vice President for Real Estate Development, Corporate Strategy and Special Projects of Walmart de México y Centroamérica
View from the Top

Retail Giant Moves Forward with Ambitious Plans

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 09:27

Q: What is Walmart’s expansion strategy for Mexico?
A: We have a portfolio of brands and a strong national presence that has allowed us to grow throughout the entire country. We have the right formats to continue growing and opening not only new stores but also expanding our logistics capacity through distribution centers. We are investing heavily in overall infrastructure and in remodeling our stores to keep them fresh and updated. We have an ambitious investment for the country using all our existing formats. We continue opening new stores in all our formats, which are Bodega Aurrera, Walmart, Sam’s Club and Superama. Bodega Aurrera is a significative vehicle for the company and it has become a popular brand for the value customer segment.
Our extended portfolio is far more urban than those of other markets. For Mexico, that means that spaces are far more reduced, forcing us to focus on making the most of the space available. Walmart’s vast experience allows it to share best practices and create more efficient stores that waste less energy, better sales-floor ratios and more technological stores.
Q: What role does Walmart play in the development of Mexico’s commercial real estate sector?
A: We are a retail company, not a construction company, even though we construct many square meters a year and manage the largest commercial expansion program in Mexico. We prefer to delegate the building to the companies that know how to do it better because it is not our core business. Our business is to find the best locations and offer the best retail services possible.
Walmart does not dabble in real estate speculation. When we do come across large lots of land, we search for another developer or anchor to accompany us in the project. We are not in the business of real estate capital gains. We believe that there is space in Mexico to duplicate our size, which is why we have decided to double in the next 10 years. Walmart announced in 2016 an investment of US$1.3 million in its logistics alone for the next few years precisely to enable that goal. All of the innovation in creating prototypes, costs and strategic alliances are based on our ambitious expansion plans.
Q: How is Walmart adapting its stores and infrastructure to the growing e-commerce trend in Mexico?
A: Walmart wants to continue developing its omnichannel proposal. Omnichannel allows clients to purchase products anytime and anywhere. We are investing a great deal of money in this and the clients value our efforts. Our omnichannel approach combined with our strong physical presence throughout the country allows our offering to be even stronger. We have 23 distribution centers across Mexico and Central America, boosting our logistics network, which we plan to also expand in the coming years.
Although Walmart is a leading company worldwide, its goal is to continue being the leader and to continue innovating on a day-to-day basis. We incorporate a great amount of technology to develop our stores and we are a serious company with a good reputation that wants to innovate within the real estate sector.
Q: What new alliances and partnerships does Walmart wish to develop?
A: We want to strengthen our relationships with local developers, Fibras and other third parties interested in helping us fulfill our mission. We would rather not go it alone. We look for serious partners and good projects. Because the partnerships we create are long term, we place special emphasis on having partners that also look for transparency and quality in their projects. It is important to understand the needs of each party and work toward common ground with all types of developers. A good developer is one that can identify the needs of the end client, the needs of Walmart and others to create a project that is coherent, financially viable and is sustainable in the long term.