Wal-Mart Stores Inc. officials announced Friday that the company is ending the Walmart Express pilot program, meaning the company plans to close 102 Walmart Express stores nationwide plus another 167 underperforming stores worldwide in a move that is expected to affect 16,000 employees, 10,000 of whom are in the U.S.
In a news release on the Walmart website Friday, company officials said this follows a review of Walmart's 11,600 stores worldwide to look at financial performance as well as how the store fits in the company's overall plan.
A total of 154 stores nationwide will close this month, including underperforming standard Walmarts, Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets.
Company officials plan to focus on the Supercenter and Neighborhood Market concepts, and have plans to open as many as 400 stores worldwide in the next few years. Walmart officials said they also plan to grow the e-commerce and customer pick-up aspects of their business.
Because many Walmart Express stores -- a few of which are in Chicago but mostly in Southern and Western states -- are typically near larger Walmart stores, company officials hope employees can be relocated. Those who can't will be given assistance in finding other jobs, along with severance pay, officials said.
While 16,000 employees worldwide will be affected, about 10,000 of those employees are in the U.S. The Walmart Express store pilot program started in 2011.
“Closing stores is never an easy decision, but it is necessary to keep the company strong and positioned for the future," said Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. "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.”
For details, including a full list of stores to be closed and when, visit the Walmart website .