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Japan's Answer to Wal-Mart?

Like many of Japan's large retailers, Aeon, the biggest of them all, is struggling to find profitability in its core businesses. Indeed, Nomura Securities estimates that Aeon's general merchandising stores (GMS) will contribute just 15% of group profits, despite accounting for 43% of the company's projected $40.1 billion in sales in the fiscal year that ended Feb. 20.

Recognizing the need for action, Aeon CEO Motoya Okada believes mimicking Wal-Mart's (WMT) "every-day low-price" model is the way to boost earnings in Japan. Sofar, though, despite investment in larger stores and info tech and concerted attempts to bypass wholesalers, moving to a Wal-Mart-type model is taking longer than pla

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