Wal-Mart to reopen 12 quake-hit stores in Japan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc will re-open 12 of its Seiyu stores in Japan which were affected by the earthquake, and is hoping to open the remaining 12 impacted stores as soon as possible, a spokesman for the U.S.-based retailer said.

Wal-Mart has 371 stores and 43 deli outlets in Japan, of which 24 were affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that left more than 27,000 people dead or missing across Japan's devastated northeast.

Of Wal-Mart's affected stores, two were severely hit and were completely covered by mud, said Wal-Mart Asia's Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Anthony Rose.

The remaining 22 affected stores managed to operate out of parking lots in some form within hours of the disaster, and were giving away bottled water and items such as noodles while selling some limited items, Rose said.

Wal-Mart said the 12 returning to full operations on Monday are located in Sendai City and in a suburb of Sendai. The other 12 will reopen as soon as possible, said Rose, who is based in Hong Kong.

"Wal-Mart has a lot of experience of dealing with disasters learning from the earthquakes in china, Chile and also the Katrina disaster to name a few," said Scott Price, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Asia in a statement emailed by Rose.

"Within minutes of the earthquake in Japan, we activated our emergency operations center in Bentonville and command centers in Tokyo and Hong Kong," Price said in the statement.

(Editing by Vinu Pilakkott)