United States
Wal-Mart has announced ambitious plans to measure its 60,000 worldwide suppliers on their ability to develop better packaging and conserve natural resources. The initiative, set to begin in 2008, is projected to reduce overall packaging by 5%, preventing millions of pounds of rubbish from reaching landfill. It is also projected to save 667,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. The retailer will be introducing a packaging scorecard to more than 2,000 of its private label suppliers on 1 November. The card will provide Wal-Mart buyers with a raft of information about packaging alternatives or more sustainable packaging materials, allowing them to make better purchasing decisions.

Spar Japan has opened a brand new flagship convenience store in Ttsukuba, Ibaraki. Trading under the Hotspar facia, the site, which has a sales area of 170 sq m, is the first of a new generation of stores that meet the latest convenience trends. Gordon Campbell, managing director of Spar International, said that the store "meets the requirements of a youthful, time-pressed, international customer base".

Carrefour plans to open 140 small supermarkets in 2006 and 2007, a 3.7% rise over the number of openings in 2005. Gerard Dorey, who is heading up the operations, said that efforts to make the group's outlets more attractive, including longer opening hours and proximity to public transport hubs, would help to boost the retailer's sales.

Russia's largest grocery retailer Pyaterochka Holding has confirmed that it is in talks which may lead to the acquisition of a chain of retail stores and real estate operating under the Merkado brand in Moscow.

Spanish supermarket chain Caprabo is embarking on a three-year strategic plan to boost sales. The retailer will be using Tesco as a model in reforming its stores. Changes include widening aisles, broadening the product range and repositioning products. Self checkout systems will also be introduced. The retailer expects to spend e145 million between 2006 and 2009 on renovation and upgrades.

Wal-Mart has condemned protesters who blocked cash registers and damaged merchandise at some of its stores in Mexico City this week. Supporters of defeated presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador claim that the retailer meddled in the country's politics by supporting conservative President-elect Felipe Calderon in the July election. Wal-Mart has denied the accusation.

Horst Paulmann, president of Chilean retailer Cencosud, has said that the company is planning a major expansion into Argentina. It will build 182 new stores, including Jumbo hypermarkets, Easy DIY stores, Disco supermarkets and Paris department stores, providing 15,000 new jobs.