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Exclusive: Walmart to start work on opening in Peru - source

By Omar Mariluz

LIMA (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc will start work this year to eventually open stores in Peru and plans to form a local management team to run the effort, a source with the global retailer said on Monday, but a spokesman at Wal-Mart headquarters in the United States denied there were any such plans.

Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin Gardner said the company was only going to run a quality assurance office in Peru for procuring products.

Websites of Peru's public registry and national tax collection agency both showed the U.S.-based retailer has filed as "Walmart Peru" with authorities in recent days.

The source, who declined to be identified, said the company had ruled out buying a local chain of stores and that opening its own stores would take some time.

"Wal-Mart is entering Peru this year," the source told Reuters. "It is coming no matter what, before the end of the year, maybe in October."

"If you ask me if the store will be ready this year - well, no - because you have to start construction," the source said.

In April, Reuters reported Wal-Mart was eyeing an expansion into Peru, where retail sales are on track to grow 20 percent this year.

Wal-Mart already owns a plot of land in Lima that came with its purchase of Chilean retailer Distribucion Y Servicios several years ago. DyS does not operate stores in Peru, but does have an office.

Peru's retail sector has long been dominated by Chilean companies, and Wal-Mart's debut in Peru will likely heat up competition in the growing market.

Chain stores control just 15 percent of the retail business in Peru - compared to 60 percent in Brazil and Chile.

Wal-Mart already has a strong foothold in other Latin American countries, with more than 3,000 stores from Mexico to Argentina.

(Reporting By Omar Mariluz; Editing by Terry Wade and Carol Bishopric)

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