I stumbled across this very neat graphical representation of the growth of the world’s largest firm, Wal-Mart (Click on the picture below to see the video play through).
The Zara approach is to open a flagship store in a city/state and then follow it up with saturation of the local market with smaller stores (and other brands from the Inditex stable like Bershka, Pull and Bear and Massimo Dutti). The firm argues that this allows them to build sufficient economies of scale in distribution, marketing etc.
For Westfield, it meant tackling the US as a series of much smaller markets and building their brand and market knowledge in each location.
Wal-Mart appear to have taken a similar approach to Westfield, but obviously on a much larger scale in the pursuit of what Thomas Holmes has called “economies of density“.
Again, it is a huge shame that the Wal-mart data is only presented for the US. It would be great to see their expansion into Canada, Mexico, Germany, Japan, the UK etc. Presumably this oversight springs from the data source.