Wal-Mart is considered the largest international retailer as they operate in all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico, Canada, China, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Britain, Argentina, and South Korea. The company opened its first international store in Mexico City in 1991 and by 1999, they had more than 130,000 employees working in 729 facilities outside the US. Wal-Mart needed to go global in order to grow and survive and the international arena was the only significant path to growth
Growth was so important to Wal-Mart mainly due to the fact that they needed to show increases in profit and sales to satisfy capital market expectations. Additionally, they needed to satisfy their own employees as they have one of the most dedicated work force. Wal-Mart had already saturated majority of US markets, so naturally they had to go international in order to grow. With emerging markets internationally that had lower levels of disposable income, Wal-Mart offered huge platforms for growth in discount retailing.
Choosing the markets in which Wal-Mart had to enter was a big decision as they could not afford to enter them all simultaneously for two reasons – they lacked financial organization and managerial. During the first 5 years of its globalization, they focused on the Americas (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Canada). The European market had characteristics less attractive to Wal-Mart as they saw the retail industry more mature and well entrenched competitors that would make it difficult to enter that market. In the end, they chose to open Mexico City in 1991, Brazil in 1994, and Argentina in 1995 – the countries with the largest populations in Latin America. By 1996, Wal-Mart took on the Asian challenge and targeted China. From there on, Wal-Mart has expanded to be the largest retailer in the world.