United States
Wal-Mart is slowing its expansion by cutting its budget for new store openings. The US retail giant said its capital expenditure for the next financial year starting in February,would rise by 2%-4% compared with the 15%-20% forecast for the year to the end of January 2007. Over the next year, the retailer plans to open up to 660 stores worldwide, half of those in the US.

Monoprix, the French retailer jointly owned by Casino and Galeries Lafayette, will start transporting merchandise by train from a new platform in Paris next September as part of an initiative to introduce environmentally friendly transportation. Twenty wagon trains running on natural gas will deliver the merchandise to warehouses in Villeneuve-Saint-Georges and Combs-la-Ville.

United States
Two men have pleaded guilty in a federal district court to conspiring to steal Coca-Cola Co trade secrets and sell them to rival PepsiCo. Ibrahim Dimson and Edmund Duhaney are to be sentenced in January, with each facing up to ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The pair were charged with fraud and stealing and selling trade secrets, including a sample of a new product from Coca-Cola. Prosecutors allege that the suspects sought to sell the confidential information for $1.5m.

United States
Consumer groups are campaigning for tighter regulation in the wake of an E.coli outbreak in fresh spinach, which killed three people and left more than 200 others ill. Campaigners want the government to set minimum safety standards for all food producers and implement a system for monitoring the industry.

Supermarket chain Lenta has expanded its network of hypermarkets with the opening of its first site outside of St Petersburg. The chain has opened a new store in Siberia, Novosibirsk and is set to open another in Astrakhan. The 12,000 sq m Astrakhan store will boast advanced air conditioning to combat high summer temperatures, and will place emphasis on local sourcing, with 50% of its offer sourced from local producers. It will also sell fish such as sturgeon fresh from the Volga river.

Metro Group said the Federal Competition Commission had approved its takeover of 85 Wal-Mart stores in Germany. Metro said the deal could now be finalised and it would integrate the stores into Metro's Real hypermarket brand, which would be finalised by mid-2007.

Carrefour has taken over the management of eight petrol stations in Brazil under a contract with Esso. The sites will continue operating under the Esso brand and be supplied by Carrefour. To date Carrefour has only operated petrol stations adjacent to its hypermarkets.