Walmart has approached a potential exit from Japan

Walmart has approached bankers about a potential exit from Japan following a tumultuous 16 years in a notoriously difficult market… The US retailer is exploring the sale of its struggling Seiyu supermarket chain, through which it entered the $60 billion Japanese market in 2002, but the formal sales process is yet to be launched and is expected to progress slowly… The potential retreat from Japan follows a strategic shift at Walmart. The retailer offloaded its majority stake in its Brazilian business in June and merged its UK-based grocer Asda with bigger rival J Sainsbury in April. In Asia, Walmart recently revealed plans to buy a $16 billion stake in Flipkart in India, a key ecommerce battleground with Amazon… If the world’s largest bricks-and-mortar retailer withdraws from Japan, Walmart would follow in the footsteps of other foreign retailers such as Tesco and Carrefour, which left the country after failing to find the right strategy to woo Japanese consumers in the fiercely competitive, heavily fragmented and unprofitable market… Walmart has a chequered history in Japan dating from 2002, when it first bought a stake in Seiyu. The US company struggled to raise the profitability of Seiyu, which reported losses for seven straight years until it became a wholly owned subsidiary of Walmart in 2008. Walmart makes about a quarter of its almost $500 billion in annual sales from countries outside the US.
Kana Inagaki and Leo Lewis