Frustrated by a bruising, and so far unsuccessful battle to open its first discount store in New York City, Wal-Mart Stores chief executive said, "I don't care if we are ever here."
H. Lee Scott Jr., the chief executive of the nation's largest retailer, said at a meeting with editors and reporters of The New York Times that trying to conduct business in the U.S.'s largest city was so expensive — and exasperating — that "I don't think it's worth the effort."
He said Wal-Mart executives have lobbied for a store in New York, but he remains unconvinced. "It's too hard to make money here," he said.
Later, Wal-Mart spokesperson Mona Williams sought to amend Scott's remarks, the Times said.
"Entering New York has been difficult, but not something we rule out," she said in an interview with the Times. "Lee said he personally didn't care if we built stores there or not. It might be more trouble than it's worth, but that he would leave that up to the real estate group that makes these decisions."
In recent years the retailer has made vigorous efforts to crack into urban markets and expand beyond its suburban base in much of the United States.