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Walmart solves remodeling headaches with dedicated store remodel teams

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Walmart has added dedicated, full-time positions to tackle its ambitious store remodeling program.

During the past few years, the retail giant has focused on remodeling its U.S. stores to give customers an updated shopping experience. Currently, Walmart real estate is completing about 500 full store remodels annually along with thousands of special projects in stores across the country.

According to John Clarke, Walmart VP of real estate, the amount of work that goes into a Walmart remodel is "staggering," and  one of the biggest challenges to completing a remodel has been finding enough people to do the work.  Traditionally, much of the pressure is placed on the store manager. For instance, a store needs to hire up to 60 temporary associates within a couple of weeks just to complete a 12-week remodel.

“It can be difficult, if not impossible, to ask a store management team to come up with that many people,” Clarke said.

The temporary associates are responsible for receiving and assembling store fixtures and moving and setting merchandise. The processes take time and effort to learn, and the lack of knowledge on the part of temporary workers is a significant hurdle to overcome.

The challenges led Walmart real estate to build new teams of full-time associates focused on remodeling stores. Each team is made up of around 30 Walmart associates. They are based in urban markets with high concentrations of stores. In 2019, more than 1,000 associates joined the remodel teams, with a starting rate of $16 per hour. 

Walmart plans to hire more than 400 more remodel associates in 15 markets early next year. The goal is for the teams to finish around 100 remodels and to participate in hundreds of more special projects in 2020.

Walmart’s career page describes  the remodel associate position as “an important part of the new state-of-the-art Walmart.” The position requires hard-working people that are comfortable working in a fast-paced and physically demanding job. While our store undergoes a remodel, we need associates to help customers find what they need and guide them to the items on their shopping lists that may not be in the usual places.

Duties include removing and installing fixtures, greeting customers “with a smile” and answering their questionsstocking products on shelves, sorting products in the backroom, and unloading trucks.

The new teams “allow us to have knowledgeable, caring associate talent working on our remodels. Both customers and associates benefit from that,” Clarke said.

The experience gained on remodel projects sets associates up for success in Walmart’s real estate division, the company said, but there’s also a clear path to return to store operations.

“The underlying intent for these positions is for them to be a training and development program that helps to put talent back into stores,” said Clarke.

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