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Wal-Mart Makes No Small Plans for New Grocery Chain

It's somewhat surprising that Wal-Mart's Marketside, its planned chain of small grocery stores, hasn't gotten more coverage.

marketsiteThat could be because, until now, nobody knew just how extensive the retail giant's plans are â€" potentially, at least. The Financial Times reported Thursday that the chain, to launch this fall, could grow to include up to 1,500 stores and $10 billion in annual sales.

Until lately Wal-Mart has described Marketside as a "pilot project." But the Financial Times came upon a job advertisement wherein Wal-Mart told potential employees that Marketside "is expected to start with 10 stores and evolve to between 1,000-1,500 stores with over $10 billion annual sales."

Wal-Mart is planning to open 10 of the 15,000-square-foot stores initially, with at least four of them in the Phoenix area. There, they will compete with the British grocer Tesco's recently launched Fresh & Easy chain.

Wal-Mart is already the largest grocer in the United States, with about 20 percent of the market.