Walmart shareholder meeting includes host James Corden after two-year hiatus

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 1,793 views 

Walmart held its annual shareholder and employee celebration Friday (June 3) inside Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, with roughly 14,000 people in attendance and millions watching virtually. Comedian and late night television host James Corden emceed the event.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the retailer has plenty to celebrate during its 60th anniversary year. He took attendees on a tour through what would have been the “Walmart Movie” through the six decades. McMillon said the reason Walmart has succeeded for 60 years is that as the customer has changed the company innovated and changed.

“We were never afraid to innovate which comes from our founders,” he said. “We have been told Sam Walton was never satisfied … always looking to improve operations.”

Walmart did celebrate fiscal 2022 revenue totaling $543 billion, up 4.82% year-over-over. Net income totaled $25.8 billion, up 15% from the prior year. He said the first quarter was tougher than expected but the company is on the right trajectory for another growth year.

Mentalist Lior Suchard performed at the event and wowed the crowd by reading several people’s minds. McMillon would later joke that Walmart should hire Suschard to help with inventory forecasting as it’s been too little or too much in the past few quarters. Corden joked that Walmart has already hired Suschard to magically make high prices disappear. Corden also congratulated Walmart on its 60th birthday this year.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon (left) met with Claude Harris, a former business partner with Sam Walton and Walmart’s first buyer, before the shareholder meeting began on Friday in Fayetteville. Harris was an honored guest at the meeting.

“What do you get someone who already sells everything,” Corden joked. “When Doug McMillon called and asked me to host I said no because it starts at 7 a.m., but then he told me it was CFO Brett Biggs’ last meeting before his retirement. So I had to come,” Corden said.

He found Biggs in the audience and proceeded to give the classic “long hug,” which Corden gave Biggs during his first time hosting the event in 2017.  Corden wore a jacket with the words “Two Timer Club” on the back as it is the second time he hosted the annual event.

Corden also joked that he, McMillon and board chairman Greg Penner pulled an all-nighter last evening and he was nursing a major hangover. He said Penner had gotten a tattoo of McMillon’s face on his bottom. Penner joked that seeing the tattoo would have to wait. McMillon set the record straight when he took the stage that there was no party last night.

Kath McLay, CEO of Sam’s Club, spoke about her organization being member obsessed. She said it is the obsession and passion helping to fuel the company’s success.

“We have some extraordinary days but most of the time it’s just ordinary days and regardless, we are obsessed with delighting our members. We work to make members’ lives better by offering quality assortments at disruptive prices,” McLay said during her presentation.

McKenna said all of the 24 countries in which Walmart conducts business were represented except for China because of COVID travel restrictions. Walmart International highlighted a new cell phone connectivity brand in Mexico that has already grown to 3.7 million users over the past year. Walmart said 40% of households in Mexico do not use the internet and the new product has changed the lives of millions.

The central message of the nearly 3-hour event was celebrating the workforce that triumphed through the pandemic and the innovation that also came out of that difficult time. Rob Walton, Jim Walton and Steuart Walton also took the stage with Penner to give out the coveted Sam M. Walton Innovation Award. This year the honor went to the ReliOn Analog Insulin team for their development of a lower-priced private branded insulin that has saved customers more than $1 million.

Other entertainment at the event included musical acts by Yoli, Jon Batiste and the Jonas Brothers.