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• The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that Scott Price, CEO of Walmart’s Asia division, is saying that while China is experiencing an economic slowdown, he does not expect it to affect the retailer’s expansion plans there.

The story notes that “the retailer currently operates 379 stores in China. Wal-Mart expects sales to rise as consumers in China's smaller cities - where the majority of its new stores will launch in the next few years - shift to modern retail shopping in megamarkets from traditional small stores.”

UPDATE / 9:45 am EDT...

In breaking news this morning, Walmart announced that Joe Zhou, senior vice president and chief merchandising officer of its China unit, is stepping down and leaving the company “for personal reasons” just six months after taking the job. No permanent replacement was named and Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that China COO Sean Clarke will serve in the role on an interim basis.

Bloomberg writes that “ Zhou was part of a leadership team that was rebuilt following the exit of the region’s chief executive officer, chief financial officer and COO last year amid store closures because of mislabeled food and difficulty integrating the acquisition of Chinese supermarket Trust-Mart. In February, the company appointed Greg Foran to helm the China unit, which generated $7.5 billion of revenue in 2010.”

The story also notes that Walmart International CEO Doug McMillon has said “the company needed to improve its merchandising in China and next year would shift to everyday low prices, rather than temporary sales and discounts.”
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