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• In the UK, the Sunday Telegraph reports that “Asda is hiring 1,800 staff to launch a massive expansion of its internet operations and take on Tesco, Britain's biggest online retailer, after admitting it misread the pace of the internet retailing revolution.”

Asda CEO Andy Bond tells the paper, “We were slow to understand how big a market and how big a customer demand there was for dotcom.”

According to the paper, “Asda hopes its new online business will reach its entire UK customer base by October 2007. At present the service is available to just under half its customers. The service will be rolled out at a rate of seven stores a month, with each store employing an extra 30 staff to pick and deliver the goods. The online service will offer food, health and beauty items, bedding, lighting, domestic appliances and electricals.”

Some surveys in the UK suggest that end-of-year Internet transactions there will increase by 40 percent this year over last year’s holiday season.

• Wal-Mart, still front-loading its marketing message in advance of the end-of-year holiday season, announced Friday that it lowered prices on almost 100 electronics items, including plasma TVs, digital cameras and cell phones. The company already had announced price cuts on more than 100 toys it is expecting to be customer magnets during the holiday shopping season.

• While Wal-Mart does not yet have a retailing operation in India, there are reports out of that country that it has appointed a CEO-designate - Raj Jain, former regional director for marketing and product delivery in Whirlpool Asia – to run its stores there.

Jain joined the company earlier this year as president for its emerging markets in Asia excluding China and Japan.

Wal-Mart does have a project office in India and reportedly is building an executive team to run its business once the government gives it the go-ahead to do so by liberalizing its foreign investment laws.

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