Wal-Mart has claimed its latest victim in the midwest after rival Winn-Dixie decided to quit the Texan market after facing months of margin eroding competition with the Arkansas giant. The announcement follows a similar move from Albertson's, which pulled out of four markets including Houston, Texas, in March. Florida-based Winn-Dixie said it was leaving Texas and Oklahoma after seeing "continued losses and a reduction of market share". It will close 76 stores and a distribution centre and dairy plant in Fort Worth. Winn Dixie chief executive Al Rowland said exiting the two midwestern states would allow the company to focus on its more profitable markets in the south east. The move follows recent research from Merrill Lynch, which claims Winn-Dixie lost share in 14 or 15 of its major markets over the past quarter, with losses in 10 markets directly attributable to Wal-Mart competition. The broker's analyst Mark Husson estimated Winn Dixie took a $79m hit in sales to Wal-Mart during the period. Although Safeway and Kroger are the most likely buyers, previous attempts to sell the stores to Kroger in 1999 were thwarted by competition authorities, making a sale to a single buyer unlikely, analysts reported. Winn-Dixie, one of the top chains in the US, operates about 1,150 supermarkets and superstores in the US. {{NEWS }}