Wal-Mart Tries To “Set The Record Straight”

Sep 24, 2004

By George Anderson

If Lee Scott were a singer in a rock and roll band, one of the songs on the set list would have to be The Animal’s hit, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” because its clear Wal-Mart’s
chief executive believes his company has gotten a bad rap without cause.

In an open letter from the company to the residents of California, it asserts “much of what has been said publicly about Wal-Mart is simply not true.”

The company says it pays its employees competitive wages and offers health benefits. It also supports local groups and contributes to California’s economy through its purchase
of goods and services.

It also claims that consumers in the state will save an average of $589 per year by shopping in its stores after it has achieved a 20 percent market share.

Whether the letter’s attempt to “set the record straight” will influence anyone remains to be seen. Opinions are divided on what the exercise will accomplish.

Wendy Liebmann, president of WSL Strategic Retail, told Reuters, “The directness of the approach is a good thing. They recognize they have to be more proactive in building
some kind of consensus in the places where they want to do business.”

Others, such as Oakland City Councilwoman Jane Brunner, saw the letter as simply more Wal-Mart “propaganda.”

Moderator’s Comment: What effect will Wal-Mart’s open letter to the residents of California have on the company image?

We’re not sure how large the undecided vote is on Wal-Mart but we are sure that those who support or are against it haven’t budged one bit in their opinion
after this letter.

George Anderson – Moderator

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