Source: Wal-Mart Execs Fired Over Integrity Breach

Dec 16, 2004

By George Anderson

It’s been said that Americans love an underdog. They also seem to take a special delight when the high and mighty are knocked from their pedestal.

In retailing, the underdog that became top dog is Wal-Mart. For years, Sam Walton and the company he and others built were hailed as a shining example of American ingenuity and the desire to excel.

Today, the company Mr. Walton founded finds itself running through a seemingly endless gauntlet of lawsuits and negative press coverage, including the story coming out of Bentonville yesterday.

Wal-Mart announced that it had fired three executives and four others for what company spokesperson Mona Williams said was a violation of “established company rules.”

The retailer has not released the names of the individuals fired or the company rules they violated.

According to two separate reports in the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal and the Benton County Daily Record, Jim Haworth, executive vice president of operations for the Wal-Mart Stores Division, Ken Reese, director of operations for Tire & Lube Express and Terry Pharr, a senior vice president, were the executives let go by the company.

An anonymous source told the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal the seven who were fired lost their jobs because of “personal judgement pertaining to integrity issues.”

Ms. Williams said the firing of the employees was not connected to the recent announcement that the company’s vice chairman, Tom Coughlin, was retiring.

Moderator’s Comment: With the executive firings making the news, should Wal-Mart address the issue in more detail publicly? Will this and other “bad
news” types of stories connected to Wal-Mart begin to affect consumers’ (consciously or unconsciously) and their decision on whether to shop at the retailer’s stores or Web site?

George Anderson – Moderator

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