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article imageWal-mart to reopen stores in quake-ravaged areas of eastern Japan

By Leo Reyes     Mar 28, 2011 in Environment
Leading US-based store Wal-Mart will reopen 22 out of the 24 stores in the earthquake and tsunami-ravaged areas in northeastern Japan. Two of the stores operating in the tsunami-hit areas were severely damaged and were covered by mud.
Other than the two store locations which were totally submerged in mud, the rest of the stores managed to operate even in their parking lots just hours after the disaster, giving away bottled water and some noodles to victims while selling other items in limited quantities, according to Anthony Rose, Vice-President of Corporate Affairs for Asia of Wal-Mart.
"Wal-Mart has a lot of experience of dealing with disasters learning from the earthquakes in china, Chile and also the Katrina disaster to name a few," said Scott Price, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Asia in a statement emailed by Rose.
"Within minutes of the earthquake in Japan, we activated our emergency operations center in Bentonville and command centers in Tokyo and Hong Kong," Price said in the statement.
“The best service we could provide to our customers was to get our stores open in the affected area where possible, even if it meant just handing out mass amounts of bottled water and instant noodles,” said Price, whose wife’s family is from Sendai. Engineers need to test the structural integrity of the stores before they are opened, he said.
The distribution center in Sendai recovered to about 65 percent of normal operations within a week and 95 percent by yesterday, Price said. Wal-Mart used another distribution center in Kanto during the first week to keep up with demand, he said.
Aside from Wal-Mart, other top retailers in Japan such as 7-11 are racing to reopen their stores in Sendai and environs after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit wide areas in northeastern Japan that left more than 27,000 persons dead or missing.
“Food, daily necessities and clothes are needed as the scarcity of goods will likely continue for some time,” said Mikihiko Yamato, an analyst at Japaninvest KK in Tokyo. “It’s better to open shops where they can as soon as possible even with limited operating hours.”
Wal mart has 371 stores and 43 deli outlets in Japan.
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