Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc on Wednesday unveiled aggressive expansion plans which will boost it selling space by eight per cent and cement its position as the world’s biggest retailer.

The Arkansas-based firm said it will open up to 260 new stores in the fiscal year beginning February 2003 in a move that equates to around 48 million square feet of new selling space.

Wal-Mart did not reveal how much its expansion plans will cost but did disclose they include 45 to 55 new discount stores and 200 to 210 new supercentres across the US.

Up to a third of those supercentres will be built in new locations with the rest relocated or added to existing Wal-Mart outlets. The company expects nearly all of the stores to open by November.

Wal-Mart added it will build three new regional general merchandise distribution centres in the US while its international arm will open up to 130 new outlets, including an undisclosed number of specialty apparel shops.