NRF: Walmart Goes Big On Red, White and Blue
Walmart is wrapping itself firmly in the American flag with plans to take logistics savings directly to the bank. The world’s largest retailer used the stage at this year’s NRF BIG Show in New York to announce a plan to invest in American manufacturing and hire thousands of military veterans over the next five years.
Bill Simon, president and CEO, Walmart U.S., told attendees that he came to the convention to talk about the company’s plan to contribute to an American "economic renewal" driven by retail. "When we work together, our retail industry can lead in a way no other industry can," he said.
Mr. Simon pointed to rising labor costs in Asia as well as the high cost of fuel and other logistical challenges as giving manufacturers reason to consider bringing production back to the U.S.
"Through our buying power, we can give manufacturers confidence to invest capital here — and play a role in revitalizing the communities we serve," said Mr. Simon.
One example of an opportunity to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. is the cotton industry.
"It’s crazy that 70 percent of cotton grown in the U.S. is shipped overseas, spun into products like towels, and then often shipped right back here," said Mr. Simon. "We can cut out two shipments across the world and weeks on the water and cut our costs in the process. We can save our customers money by employing more of their neighbors — why wouldn’t we do this?"
Walmart plans to spend an additional $50 billion over the next 10 years to help spur domestic manufacturing. According to Mr. Simon, the company has designated a team of senior executives to lead the effort and is prepared to sign long-term deals with vendors to support investments they make in manufacturing in the U.S.
Creating jobs for veterans of the American military was personal for Mr. Simon who related his own experience moving from active duty in the Navy to a job at a pub in Charleston, SC that provided him with an income before going on to graduate school.
"Beginning Memorial Day, Walmart will offer a job to any honorably discharged veteran within his or her first twelve months off active duty," said Mr. Simon. "Not every returning veteran wants to work in retail. But every veteran who does will have a place to go. We project that Walmart will hire more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years."
- A Job to Do: Retail’s Role in an American Renewal – Walmart Stores
- Walmart to Boost Sourcing of U.S. Products by $50 Billion Over the Next 10 Years – Walmart Stores
What is your reaction to Bill Simon’s speech? Can American retailing work together to revitalize manufacturing and significantly affect job creation in U.S.?