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Wal-Mart to invest $500 million in Canada, create 7,500 jobs

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(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Tuesday it would invest about $500 million this year to strengthen its presence in Canada, creating more than 7,500 jobs including construction.

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The investments include more than $376 million for store projects, $91 million for distribution networks to expand fresh food capability and $31 million for e-commerce projects.

Wal-Mart's expansion plans comes a week after Target Corp said it would open nine new stores across Canada, adding to the 124 it opened last year.

Over the past year U.S. retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target have expanded in Canada, posing a threat to local retailers such as Loblaw Cos Ltd, the country's largest grocer, and Empire Co Ltd's Sobeys grocery chain.

Wal-Mart said on Tuesday it planned to complete 35 supercentre projects in Canada by January 31, 2015, adding one million square feet of retail space.

Wal-Mart's store count in Canada will rise to 395 by the end of January 2015, including 282 supercentres and 113 discount stores, the retailer said.

The locations of stores and distribution center projects will be announced later, the company said.

(Reporting by Ashutosh Pandey in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza)

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