Wal-Mart has revealed ambitious expansion plans for its operation in Germany. Announcing the opening of 50 new stores in the country over the next three years, Wal-Mart Deutschland said its existing 95 stores will be refurbished and extended into US-style Supercentres. The goal is to double the company's market share in Germany to 20% by 2003. A spokeswoman stressed that expansion would be achieved through opening new stores rather than through taking over existing ones. But the German retail lobby has reacted angrily to the news, insisting it will result in thousands of job losses. Unions argue an increased presence from a hard discounter such as Wal-Mart will place intolerable pressure on smaller businesses. Even larger companies will find it difficult to compete with the massive buying power of the world's largest retailer. The popular news magazine Der Spiegel has labelled Wal-Mart's latest offensive as "the second American invasion", adding to a wave of negative publicity surrounding the company following last month's probe into allegations of below cost selling. Wal-Mart first entered the German market in 1997 with the purchase of 21 Wertkauf stores, but rapidly acquired a further 74 outlets from the Spar supermarket chain to take a sizeable share of the market. It has nevertheless failed to make a profit in Germany to date, chalking up annual losses in excess of £200m, although a spokeswoman said the company should break even by the New Year. Mixed signals are coming from the Wal-Mart camp over its alleged interest in Metro, Germany's largest retailer. When asked to comment on a possible deal with Metro, Wal-Mart's European boss Allan Leighton said: "One should never say never." {{NEWS }}