6 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. — 2009
Amit J. Shah and Michael L. Monahanat
Frostburg State University
In May 2009, Wal-Mart began revamping the electronics departments in its 3,500 U.S. stores to make them much more interactive and roomier. The company wants all the business that Circuit City’s failure left and also wants Best Buy and Amazon’s business. Wal-Mart now carries more sophisticated electronics products such as Research in Motion Ltd.’s Blackberry smart phones, Palm Inc.’s Pre smart phone, and Blu-ray disc players. In June 2009, Wal-Mart began selling Dell Inc.’s new Studio One 19 touch-screen computers. In July 2009, Wal-Mart broke ranks with most other large corporations by announcing support for legislation that would require employers to provide health insurance to employees, a centerpiece of President Obama’s effort to provide near-universal coverage to Americans. As the largest private employer in the United States, Wal-Mart desires to level the playing field with its rival firms because it already provides health insurance to all its employees. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has actively fought against such legislation for several years. During the recession of 2008–2009, Wal-Mart was the Dow’s top performer. Headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, Wal-Mart’s sales rose from $374.3 billion in fiscal year 2008 to $401.2 billion in 2009 while net income rose from $12.7 billion to $13.4 billion. For more than a decade, Wal-Mart has been growing by leaps and bounds and rolling over large competitors such as Kmart as well as thousands of small businesses. Financial statements are shown in Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2. (Note:Wal-Mart’s fiscal year ends January 31.) In 1995, Wal-Mart ended a five-year battle with local leaders of Bennington, Vermont, and opened its first store in that state, thereby laying claim to having stores in all 50 states (see Exhibit 3). The Bennington store was Wal-Mart’s 2,158th store. To get approval for this store, Wal-Mart abandoned its usual 200,000-square-foot store near a major highway exit and instead located in a downtown building containing just 50,000 square feet. Environmentalists in Vermont say the rural character of the state is endangered by “sprawl-mart development.” Other chains, such as Kmart, have operated in Vermont for years, so some residents are mystified by the current controversy. As of the end of fiscal 2009, there only four Wal-Mart stores in Vermont.
Wal-Mart does not have a formal mission statement. When asked about Wal-Mart’s lack of a mission, Public Relations Coordinator Kim Ellis recently replied, “We believe that our customers are most interested in other aspects of our business, and we are focused on meeting their basic consumer needs. If, in fact, we did have a formal mission statement, it would be something like this: ‘To provide quality products at an everyday low price and with extended customer service . . . always.’ ”
Found on the company’s Website is a statement pertaining to the culture of Wal-Mart. “As Wal-Mart continues to grow into new areas and new mediums, our success will always be attributed to our culture. Whether you walk into a Wal-Mart store in your hometown or one across the country while you’re on vacation, you can always be assured you’re getting low prices and genuine customer service that you’ve come to expect from us. You’ll feel at home in any department of any store . . . that’s our culture.” The Wal-Mart culture is based on three basic beliefs of Sam Walton: 1) respect for the individual, 2) service to our customers, and 3) strive for excellence.
60 AMIT J. SHAH AND MICHAEL L. MONAHANAT
EXHIBIT 1 Consolidated Statements of Income (amounts in millions except per share data) Fiscal Year Ended January 31
2009 2008 2007
Net sales $401,244 $374,307 $344,759
Membership and other income 4,363 4,169 3,609
$405,607 $378,476 $348,368
Costs and Expenses:
Cost of sales 306,158 286,350 263,979
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