Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Bentonville, Ark.) will begin selling large General Electric Co. appliances in its Porter, Texas Supercenter in late September, the maiden voyage of a new agreement between the retail giant and the electrical giant. Wal-Mart stores in Arizona and Oklahoma will follow. By year-end, 12 Wal-Marts will offer GE merchandise, showcasing about 40 or 50 items in storefront areas where shoppers had previously found, say, banks and photographers. The entire GE appliance line will be available to customers through in-store kiosks, as well.
Wal-Mart explained that it would test the grounds for 90 days before deciding the next step for expansion. If everything goes well, and GE products begin showing up through the nearly 4000-store chain, analysts expect Wal-Mart to receive a substantial revenue increase while driving profit margins downward for other appliance retailers - especially Sears Roebuck & Co., who now holds the largest appliance market share.