US chain of discount stores. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., is the world's largest retailer. The company has chains in the UK, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, China, and Korea. In 2001 it had US$218 billion in sales, and in 2002 operated nearly 3,500 facilities in the USA and more than 1,100 in other countries. In 2002, more than 100 million customers worldwide visited the outlets each week.
The chain was founded by Sam Walton who opened his first Wal-Mart store in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas, and established the chain's headquarters in 1970 in nearby Bentonville. He called his employees associates and allowed them to share in the profits. In 2002, the employees numbered 1.3 million worldwide.
The company bought the UK's Asda supermarket chain in 1999 and by April 2002 was operating 252 stores in the UK.