Wal-Mart Stores, is hiring middle-management level executives to help evaluate the type of stores that it operates ahead of the arrival of British grocery Tesco to the United States.
But the world's largest retailer said it would be "wrong to speculate" on what those job openings might mean for future M&A activity.
Earlier Monday, the Financial Times reported the retailer was considering acquisitions in the United States, citing a Wal-Mart job posting for an executive to assess the "strategic implications of any possible M&A on our overall portfolio."
Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley said, "Two months ago we posted a number of middle-management level positions to evaluate our existing formats to achieve better customer relevance. It would be wrong to speculate how that might translate to future M&A activity."
Tesco is preparing to open its "Fresh & Easy" neighborhood grocery markets in the U.S. later this year, and many are waiting to see if Wal-Mart will introduce a new, smaller store concept to compete with the Tesco stores.
Tesco is seeking to woo U.S. shoppers with smaller convenience stores of around 10,000 square feet emphasizing ready-to-eat meals and fresh produce in areas that are underserved by supermarket and grocery store chains.
In the U.S., Wal-Mart currently operates its namesake discount stores that average 107,000 square feet; its "Supercenters" that average 187,000 square feet and combine general merchandise with groceries; and its smaller "Neighborhood Markets" that average 42,000 square feet and sell groceries, pharmaceuticals and general merchandise.
It also operates its Sam's Club warehouse division.