Costco looks to open down under in '09

BELLEVUE, Wash. Costco plans to open its first store in Australia in 2009 and is currently looking at sites for its first store down under.

At its annual shareholders meeting in Bellevue, Wash. on Jan. 29, Costco chairman of the board Jeffrey Brotman said Costco plans to “open in Australia sometime next year” when asked about the chain’s plans for international expansion.

Costco executive vice president and chief financial officer Richard Galanti later confirmed that Costco is searching for sites in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. “We’re looking at opening there in 2009 if everything goes as expected,” said Galanti.

But Costco is still not ready to entertain a move into China. Brotman said Costco has been looking at China for years and said it’s, “still undecided, though we’re taking a hard look at it.”

During his presentation, chief executive officer Jim Sinegal said Costco continued to push eco-friendly ideas in stores last year. He said Costco increased the number of stores powered by solar energy to 13 and that the company is considering solar panels for 25 more locations.

Sinegal also confirmed the 531-store chain plans to open 29 new stores this year and estimates Costco could eventually open 1,025 stores worldwide with more than 700 warehouses in the U.S.

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