Wal-Mart Wrap: More stores in China, Cherokee Nation lawsuit, lower transfer fees

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 280 views 

Following are recent news briefs about Bentonville-based Wal-Mart Stores, its divisions and the supplier community.

Walmart International announced 40 more stores coming to the Guangdong Province of China over the next five years. Scott Price, COO of Walmart International, made the announcement at the U.S. Investment Cooperation Conference in the burgeoning nation of nearly 1.4 billion consumers.

Price said Walmart will continue to grow its presence in China. He said the Guangdong Province also is the site of the retailer’s China Home Office operations and an important region for the company.

Since 1996 Wal-Mart has grown to more than 400 stores in China, with 92 of those in the Guangdong Province. There are eight new stores planned for the region this year. Price said the retailer will also improve its logistics system and build a cold-chain logistics distribution center in Guangdong. Walmart International CEO David Cheesewright has said China is one of the retailer’s largest global growth opportunities, which is why store expansion is planned for not only Walmart locations but also Sam’s Clubs.

Wal-Mart Stores was a party in a lawsuit filed by the Cherokee Nation last week in Tahlequah, Okla., which is the headquarters for the nation. The suit was filed April 25 in tribal court, but the defendants which include Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s, CVS and drug maker McKesson are expected to move the case to federal court.

The Cherokee Nation said it sued distributors and retailers of opioid medications on because the companies have contributed to “an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse” within the tribe and have not done enough to prevent tribal members from acquiring illegally prescribed opioid painkillers.

The lawsuit also alleges the companies have pursued profits instead of trying to reduce opioid-related addition that has taken the lives of hundreds of Cherokee citizens and cost the tribe hundreds of millions of dollars in health care costs. The suit claims nearly one-third of the prescription painkillers distributed in Oklahoma went to the Cherokee Nation which includes 14 counties in Northeastern part of the state.

Wal-Mart did not respond to a request for comment on this litigation. CVS, a codefendant in the case, said it has policies, procedures and tools to ensure pharmacists properly exercise their responsibility to determine whether a controlled substance prescription was issued for a legitimate medical purpose before filling it.

Wal-Mart said Wednesday (April 24) it is lowering fees on wire transfers for customers. The discounts amount to 50 cents on cash transfers up to $50, and $1.50 in savings for wire transfers up to $1,000. The top fee for transfers over $1,000 is capped at $16, down $2.

It’s been three years since Wal-Mart began offering its store-to-store wire transfers competing with Western Union. These financial services are mostly used by unbanked customers which total about 9 million households.

The company estimates it’s saving $500 million for customers who otherwise would pay up to $160 for wire transfers. Kristy Ward, vice president of Walmart Services, said expanding services helps makes a trip to Walmart stores more efficient for customers.

“We feel the value of saving time is almost becoming as important as saving money,” she said. “We never have enough time to make sure time spent shopping in stores is time well spent. If we can make it faster and simpler for the user, that’s a win for us, because we can start to lower our operating costs and for the customer.”

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