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The Ottawa Citizen reports that Costco has become a lot more aggressive with its Canadian expansion plans than it expected to. When it first moved north of the border two decades ago, it expected to only have 20 or stores in Canada, and only in markets with a minimum of a half-million residents.

But now, it is preparing to open its 66th store, and management believes that there could be as many as 100 Costco club stores dotting the Canadian landscape – many of them in smaller markets that previously were thought to be incapable of supporting such an operation.

"We're very aggressive in our approach," Louise Wendling, who manages Costco’s Canadian operations, tells the Citizen. "We know we are going to grow in Canada."

The paper notes that Costco not only is expanding its fleet of Canadian stores, but also is extending the list of services that it offers – such as emergency roadside service, telephone and Internet plans, and real estate services - beyond the low prices on a wide variety of items.

“Costco clearly has one eye on the prospect of growing competition in Canada from Sam's Club,” the paper writes. “But its latest push into offering more and more services is aimed at more than simply building loyalty among its shoppers in response to Sam's Clubs,” but also a way “to ramp up sales, without having to physically expand their floor space.”

And, the Citizen writes, “Costco Canada might well be at the forefront of testing that proposition, following the lead of its U.S. parent."
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