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Wal-Mart not worried about competitors; its 2 million associates are the key


Bentonville, Ark. -- Speaking at Wal-Mart Stores’ annual shareholders meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas, president and CEO Doug McMillon told the more than 14,000 assembled associates and shareholders that he is more worried about the enemy within the company than competitors.

“The truth is the real villains are lurking within the company,” said McMillon. “Our real villains are things like bureaucracy, complacency, a lack of speed, or a lack of passion.”

McMillon said Walmart is uniquely positioned to define the future of retail. He challenged the company’s more than two million associates to win the future of retail “one customer at a time.”

“We have strong competitors, but they don’t have what we do,” McMillon said. “They don’t have you – two million associates who want make a difference. Think about the map of our locations. No one else has that incredible network around the world. Now, think about our supply chain and experienced logistics team. I get excited about what our technology team is now capable of. As we add new capabilities and join these unique assets together effectively, we’re going to have something special.”

During the meeting, which featured celebrity entertainment from Reese Witherspoon, Ricky Martin, Mariah Carey, Rod Stewart and others, worker shareholders reiterated their call for $15 an hour and access to full-time hours for all associates. They also proposed two resolutions intended to rein in executive compensation.

Additionally, Walmart worker shareholders presented a proposal, supported by the Sierra Club, calling for Walmart to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by international marine shipping.

The meeting followed a week of events in Northwest Arkansas that celebrated the company’s associates. The company shared a series of initiatives in its U.S. stores to respond to associate feedback and provide greater career opportunity.

Wal-Mart Stores announced that board chairman Rob Walton is stepping down and will be succeeded by vice chairman Greg Penner, who is Walton's son-in-law.

During the meeting, the company made a number of other announcements, including that board chairman Rob Walton is stepping down and will be succeeded by vice chairman Greg Penner, who is Walton's son-in-law.

Other announcements include:

• Raising the starting wage for more than 100,000 department managers and specialists;

• Changes to its dress code;

• Improvements to the in-store experience for both associates and customers, including the return of Walmart Radio and changes to store temperatures;

• New technology for all department managers;

• And new associate badges that read: “Our People Make the Difference;”

After the meeting, the retailer’s CFO, Charles Holley, said the company can expand revenues by $10 billion to $20 billion per year in response to an analyst's question about how much the retailer can grow the business over the next few years.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. operates 11,462 stores under 65 banners in 28 countries and e-commerce websites in 11 countries.

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