In this ever-changing world of technology, the people of Wal-Mart will set it apart and elevate it above the competition, said Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores.
On Wednesday (May 31), McMillon kicked off the International Associates’ Meeting at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville and encouraged the company’s 1,500 international employees who were flown to Northwest Arkansas for shareholders week to take home the company culture.
“I happen think we’re the good guys and the good girls in this fight,” McMillon said. “Take some of this passion and energy back with you.”
Before the meeting, the employees arrived at the arena divided into groups by country, and were singing and dancing, and during the meeting, they also sang and danced to the traditional music of their country after presentations by that country’s executive team. Representing the international division’s 6,300 stores in 28 countries, the employees saw pictures depicting the humble beginnings of the company’s founder Sam Walton, who was born in Kingfisher, Okla., in 1918, and the store he opened in Bentonville in 1950.
McMillon explained Walton’s work ethic of servant leadership, saying he shouldn’t ask someone to do a job that he’s not willing to do himself.
‘THE MOST INTERESTING’
Walmart International CEO David Cheesewright echoed the sentiment, and spoke on the opportunity the company offers its employees, noting McMillon was handling boxes in a distribution center when he started with the company. Now, he’s running the biggest company in the world, Cheesewright said.
“Where else could that happen?”
He said the company’s international division is not the “biggest, but we’re the most interesting by a long, long way.” Unlike the U.S. division, it has 65 store formats, and is in the fourth consecutive year of improving quarterly sales.
“I don’t think there’s any other segment that has done that,” he said, giving credit to the work of the store employees.
In discussing the company’s impact, he mentioned a U.S. study on how a new Walmart saved each person in the town an average of $3,500. It was like giving each resident a 5% to 6% pay raise, he said.
“That’s amazing. That kind of brings it to life for me.”
He also discussed the division’s recycling efforts to create zero waste. More than 80% of “everything that comes into our buildings is recycled,” he said. “It was about 60% five years ago.”
The company is leading the way, and because of its size, other companies are following, such as when it sells low energy light bulbs or high efficiency detergents. Cheesewright encouraged the employees to think about what makes this week special to them and to talk to other employees as they bump into them and ask them what they do.
“You’ll find that everybody has a special story,” he said. “But you’ll also find a lot of consistency. You’ll find really competitive people. I don’t think you’ll find many people here who don’t like winning.”
Also in the meeting, executives of foreign markets discussed business in their division, highlighting the special occasions, seasons and holidays heavily impacting sales.
Walmart stores in China serve about 2.4 million customers daily during holidays. Over the past Chinese New Year, Walmart stores there sold 33 million dumplings, and Sam’s Clubs there sold 800 tons of cherries. Also in China, more than 500 million customers shop online, and they can order fresh groceries using their smartphone and have them delivered within an hour.
In Chile, the start of its barbecue season is in September, and 27.55 million pounds of meat were sold in the month at its stores, which are celebrating their 60th anniversary. September is also an important month for Mexico, and in the month in 2016, 1.5 million bottles of tequila were sold. In Africa, during its barbecue season, more than 1.1 million pounds of charcoal and 4.5 million meat packs were sold.
Easter is an important holiday in the United Kingdom, and $70 million in Easter eggs were sold this past holiday.
In Japan, spring is an important season, and sales for a top selling sushi item, the Eho-maki roll, rose 11% for the season over the past year. Japan executives showed an image, depicting the number of rolls sold would stretch 180 miles, or from Oklahoma City to Bentonville.
In Canada, the country is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and the company’s private clothing brand, Canadiana, is marking the occasion.
The company also handed out Integrity in Action awards to employees who went above and beyond, such as an Argentina pharmacist who helped to expose a $10 million prescription fraud ring or a United Kingdom pharmacist who helped a customer discover she was a victim of natural gas poisoning.
The store of the year was 3658 in Canada. Associates of the year were Jan Ross of store 3004 in Canada, Chunyuan Chen of China and Juan Silva of store 1046 in Argentina. Ross saved a baby’s life by bringing down its body temperature and performing CPR before paramedics arrived.
The company named two employees, one from Brazil and the other from South Africa, as part of its Associate Talent Search, and they sang during the meeting.