Walmart removed all doubt about how it intends to enter Russia this week when it announced the closure of its office in Moscow. The office was opened two years ago to investigate opportunities in the country, but international division president and CEO Doug McMillon said it no longer made business sense to maintain the facility.
“The Russian market is a compelling retail opportunity and we believe that Russian consumers could benefit from Walmart’s value proposition,” McMillon said. “Since we have decided to enter the market through acquisition, not greenfield development, and since there is no clear acquisition partner in the near term, there is not a business reason to continue our Moscow representative office. We will continue to pursue market entry opportunities.”
Walmart clearly wants to enter Russia, but it is less clear how the company defines near term when it refers to a lack of clear acquisition partners. Unless a compelling opportunity presented itself, Walmart is under no pressure to enter the country. It has abundant growth opportunities elsewhere in existing markets and two acquisitions to integrate in 2011 in the United Kingdom and South Africa.