Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is a truly global company. The world’s largest retailer claims 11,500 retail stores operating under 72 banners in 28 companies. Wal-Mart also claims 2.2 million employees worldwide, including 1.3 million in the United States alone.
But operations in 28 countries means that Wal-Mart has no operations in the world’s other 205 nations. It makes some sense, for example, that there are no Wal-Mart stores in Vatican City with its population of just 801. But there are some populous countries where the giant retailer has either tried and failed to gain a foothold or else has not really tried at all.
Wal-Mart can no longer count on growth in the United States, so it makes sense that the company should look beyond U.S. borders to find growth. For now, though, the company seems to have pinned its hopes on China and India, the two largest countries in the world. There are 400 Wal-Mart retail locations in China and none in India to serve some 2.7 billion people. Opportunities for growth are enormous, which may explain why other populous countries are not on Wal-Mart’s agenda.
Of the 28 largest countries in the world only eight are home to a Wal-Mart store or one of a Wal-Mart-owned subsidiary: China, the United States, Brazil, Nigeria, Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom and South Africa.
The 20 largest countries where there are no Wal-Mart stores are listed here in reverse population order. Each listing includes the country’s 2014 gross domestic product (GDP) and 2015 GDP per capita as measured by purchasing power parity (PPP).
> Population: 193 million
> GDP (rank): $244 billion (44th)
> Per capita GDP: $4,902
Although Wal-Mart has stores in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and five other Central American countries, the company has no presence in Colombia.
19. South Korea
> Population: 51 million
> GDP (rank): $1.41 trillion (13th)
> Per capita GDP: $36,528
South Korea is another country that Wal-Mart entered but failed to adapt its practices to local customs. In 2006 the company sold its 16 outlets in the country and joined the parade of multinationals that could not adapt to the Korean consumer market.
> Population: 54 million
> GDP (rank): $64 billion (72nd)
> Per capita GDP: $5,164
Wal-Mart has no stores in Myanmar.
> Population: 55 million
> GDP (rank): $48 billion (86th)
> Per capita GDP: $2,901
There are no Wal-Mart stores in Tanzania.
> Population: 60 million
> GDP (rank): $2.14 trillion (8th)
> Per capita GDP: $35,665
There is no evidence that Wal-Mart has ever considered entering the Italian market, where France’s Carrefour would be the main competitor.