US retail giant Wal-Mart Stores plans to make huge cost savings in 2010 by combining store purchasing for several countries.

The plans, originally announced at an analysts' conference in October, are part of wider goals to increase the proportion of goods it buys directly from manufacturers, rather than through third-party procurement companies or suppliers.

The head of Walmart's US stores, Eduardo Castro-Wright, has estimated that shifting to direct purchasing could reduce costs by 5% to 15% across the supply chain within five years, according to The Financial Times.

That's a potential saving of around US$4bn-$12bn.

The newspaper also claims that by the end of the year, Walmart intends to be directly purchasing clothing for its Faded Glory line and for licensed Disney character clothing.