Walmart to pump $700m into Guatemala expansion as Central America push continues

Walmart, the global retail giant, has unveiled ambitious plans to invest $700 million in Guatemala over the next five years, according to Cristina Ronski, the company's head of operations in Central America.

The announcement was made during the groundbreaking ceremony for a new store in the Central American nation.

This significant investment is part of Walmart's broader $1.5 billion modernisation and expansion strategy for Mexico and Central America announced in March 2023. During an investor presentation earlier this year, Walmex, as the company is known in the region, said it had opened 162 new stores across Mexico and Central America in 2023, including 101 in the last three months alone.

"Last year we opened the highest number of stores since 2013," said Guilherme Loureiro, then the executive president and chief exec of Walmart de México y Centroamérica.

Walmex operates a vast network of 3,569 stores and clubs, as well as 31 distribution centres across six countries, reaching 690 cities, according to a 2022 report. In Central America alone, the company has 896 stores in four formats and more than 38,000 associates across Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

The expansion plan has been in the works for several years, with Loureiro previously stating, "As we seek to prioritise our resources and accelerate our ecosystem in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, we believe there may be attractive opportunities for further growth in Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua that could be better captured under a different structure."

Walmart's sales in Mexico and Central America have been growing steadily, reaching $40.5 billion in 2023, compared to about $36 billion in 2022, according to Statista. This growth is fueled by the strong economic performance in the region, with Costa Rica demonstrating the strongest growth at 4.9 per cent, followed by Guatemala at 3.4 per cent, Nicaragua and Honduras at 3.3 per cent, and El Salvador at 2.3 per cent, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

The substantial investment in Guatemala and the broader Central American region underscores Walmart's unwavering commitment to expanding its footprint and tapping into the vast potential for growth in these markets.

With robust economic growth and improving housing programs driving demand for consumer goods, Walmart's strategic moves position the retail behemoth to capitalise on these opportunities and solidify its position as a leading player in the region.

The news comes weeks after Walmart announced the impending retirement of long-time chair Rob Walton. Walton, the eldest son of founder Sam Walton, will retire from the board at the conclusion of his current term on 5 June more than 50 years after first joining the company in 1969 and after more than 40 years on the Walmart board.

Share Story:

Recent Stories

The Very Group
The Very Group transformed range and assortment planning using Board.

Watch the full video

Smarter merchandise planning across the retail value chain
In this webinar, Matt Hopkins, Head of Retail Solutions, Board, Catherine Tooke, SVP Product & Planning, Sweaty Betty, and Subir Gupta, Managing Principal, Thought Provoking Consulting join Retail Systems Editor Jonathan Easton to discuss the findings of the recent Retail Systems report The Merchandise Planning Challenge: How are retailers harnessing technology to optimise planning and retain customers? and examine the innovations that are improving retail planning.