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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. president and CEO Mike Duke has outlined how the mega-retailer will build what it calls “the Next Generation Walmart,” which, among other things, will create 500,000 jobs worldwide over the next five years. The four key strategies, which were unveiled at the annual shareholders’ meeting last week, are as follows: become a truly global company; understand the business challenges that retailers will face, and solve them; play an even bigger leadership role on social issues that matter to customers; and maintain the company’s strong culture in all locations.
“Our results demonstrate the underlying strength of our business and our strategies of growth, leverage and returns,” noted Duke. “But as proud as we are of our recent performance, future success is never guaranteed. I want all of you to be able to say that at this moment, Walmart … began building the Next Generation Walmart.”
To be a more global company, according to Duke, the company must serve customers as a local store would, exchange best practices and take advantage of its global supply chain. He also emphasized the importance of talent: “We need to recruit the best talent and identify the best talent in our ranks. Then we need to develop leaders and help them become global citizens.”
He acknowledged the global challenges retailers will need to confront over the next two decades, including the effect of technology on shopping patterns and especially on pricing. “Retail will soon enter an era of price transparency,” he noted. “And what kind of retailer wins in a time of price transparency? You got it, the price leader. We need to really churn the productivity loop and deliver on our Every Day Low Price business model everywhere. Walmart must widen the gap here. We will win on price leadership, and we will win big.”
Duke additionally pledged the company to continued leadership on social issues, observing: “Over the last few years, we’ve built a model for making a big difference on big issues …. But, as Sam Walton knew, leadership leads to higher expectations …. So we must raise the bar. We must continue to meet the social obligations and expectations ahead.”
As for the preservation of Walmart’s unique company culture, Duke said: “Our culture is who we are. It isn’t just words written on a wall at the home office or stapled to the bulletin board in the back room of a store. It makes us special. It sets us apart from the competition. And it appeals to people everywhere. So wherever we go and whatever changes we may make, we must keep our culture strong. I truly believe the retailer that respects individuals, that puts customers first, that strives for excellence, that is trusted, will win the future.”
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates over 8,400 retail units under 55 banners in 15 countries, and employs more than 2 million associates worldwide.