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Lots of talk, but where’s the action?


Mike Duke presented at the Barclay’s conference Tuesday, and, as we predicted in last week’s WNN, he did not speak about first-quarter sales, which the company will report on May 17. Instead Duke focused on such broad goals as growth, leverage, but offered little detail on how the company plans to achieve them.

According to Duke, a main priority for Walmart is growth, particularly at its U.S. stores. This is not surprising since the company has been reporting negative comps for its Walmart U.S. business for the past few quarters. In order to achieve positive comps, Duke said, stores need to offer the right assortment.

“I'll tell you, I'm pleased with the steps that have already been taken in food, and it's already showing our positive progress there of getting the right assortment in. We have the majority of the food assortment in place now. The general merchandise assortment for Wal-Mart U.S. should be almost complete by the third quarter, and that's well on its way to having the right assortment for our customers. I'm also pleased with the real focus on new product and innovative product and the collaborative spirit of working with our suppliers so that Wal-Mart is the leader of introducing new product and really working together on innovation and bringing innovation to our stores.”

In the United States, Duke said he sees more opportunities for growth with Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets. Internationally, Duke sees China as the greatest growth opportunity. He also mentioned that Walmart’s acquisition plans in South Africa is going through the government approval process and is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.

Duke also discussed Walmart’s ability to best leverage its available resources. He noted that processes that work around the world should be leveraged across the whole business and that involves the engineering teams, innovation teams, as well as systems and technology.

Another priority for the company is creating a better e-commerce experience for its customers. Duke mentioned the acquisition of Kosmix and noted that Walmart will utilize its knowledge of social networking to strengthen its multichannel offerings.

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