preview

The secret of Wal-Marts success

Satisfactory Essays
The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, is moving into Europe, and the UK is its second target after Germany. BBC News Online's Tim Weber looks at the secrets behind the company's success.
The figures make the owners of corner shops and small retail chains shudder: Wal-Mart operates 3,601 stores, employs more than 910,000 people world-wide, sales amounted last year to $137.6bn (£85.7bn) - equivalent to a tenth of Britain's total economic output.

Patrick O'Connell: The largest retailer in the world began life as a single store in Arkansas
The company serves about 90 million customers every week and has stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, China, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Argentina and South Korea.

Where Wal-Mart treads, competitors tremble.

UK supermarkets will face tough times, but consumers are bound to reap the benefits.

Expansion

Wal-Mart is the grand-daddy of all discount chains.

Its huge US stores, twice the size of the largest European hypermarket, sell everything from food to clothing to sporting goods to hardware.

Richard Quest delves into the secret of Wal-Mart's success
Operating from cheap out-of-town warehouse sites, Wal-Mart's discount prices have trounced the competition.

After the death of founder Sam Walton in 1992, the company briefly seemed to have lost its way. But under the guidance of new chief executive and chairman David Glass it soon re-invented itself.

Wal-Mart offers a one-stop shopping experience, from groceries and clothing to hardware and work-out equipment
Wal-Mart is now stronger than ever. Sales are rising again - up 17% last year. Strong consumer spending in the United States has helped the company's fortunes.

But the main driving force of future revenues will be Wal-Mart's programme of relentless international expansion.

In Europe the company has only entered the German market so far, buying 21 Wertkauf stores a year ago and adding 74 Interspar shops last autumn.

Bob Martin, president of Wal-Mart's international operations, says he wants to serve "a good deal of Europe". And one of his vice-presidents, Carlos Criado-Perez, adds: "We are looking for any open door that could open in Europe."

Wal-Mart wants to set up shop in cyberspace as well. Mr Martin believes the Internet is "at the threshold" of taking off and he wants his company to be "a dominant player".

The secret of Sam's success

Wal-Mart is a relatively young company, founded 37 years ago by Sam Walton.

Sam Walton, self-made man and an American legend