Further, under this segment are a number of financial products ranging from bill payments to wire transfers and money orders. On the other hand, the company's international segment has in its fold online retail as well as a number of discount and retail store formats. The company's Sam's Club segment has in place private-label items as well as other merchandise categorized as either soft goods or hard goods. Further, it can also be noted that this segment currently operates 4,263 stores and has a workforce of more than 600,000 workers spread over 15 nations outside the U.S. At the moment, Wal-Mart which happens to be Mexico's and America's largest employer has a total of 2.1 million associates (employees) across the world. In some cases, Wal-Mart's foreign expansion has been marked by the acquisition of retail chains already in operation. For instance, the company's expansion to Canada was preceded by the acquisition of some divisions of Woolworth Canada.
To briefly make a mention of the company's finance and governance, it can be noted that Wal-Mart is today governed by a BOD comprising of 15 members elected by share holders on an annual basis. The current board is chaired by Robert Walton who also happens to be the son of the company's founder -- Sam Walton. The current Chief Executive Officer is Michael Duke. Wal-Mart's recent financial data released on 15th November 2011 indicates that the company's revenues were up by approximately 8.2% in the third quarter of 2011. This is in comparison to the same period last year. The company's U.S. stores recorded revenues of $63.8 billion. In comparison to the same period last year, this represents a 2.7% increase. From the time Wal-Mart's founder died in 1992, an effective cast of managers has largely been successful in consolidating the various gains made by Sam Walton by amongst other things embracing superior management techniques and shrewd decision making approaches.
It is important to note that although Wal-Mart's growth can be considered a classic case on business management, there are those who remain concerned of the effects the company has on local jobs and businesses in locations where it establishes its presence. For instance, in a study conducted by Kenneth Stone, it was found out that within a decade of a Wal-Mart store opening, retail businesses in a given locality could end up losing up to half of their sales to Wal-Mart (Hicks 73-74). This in a way is as a result of Wal-Mart's practice of offering their products for sale at the lowest possible price. However, apart from that and a few other labor relations concerns, the company has in the recent past been involved in a number of initiatives which can be constructed to constitute part of its corporate social responsibility. For instance, in September 2005, the company offered logistical support as well as food and cash donations in a bid to assist those who were caught up in the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Wal-Mart has also in the recent past been involved in efforts to enhance energy efficiency by amongst other things cutting down on its green gas emissions. Further, early this year, the company announced that it was going to enhance its store brands' nutritional content by amongst other things pushing for the reduction of sugar and salt amounts.
As I have already noted elsewhere in this text, Wal-Mart's overall competitive strategy over time has been to undercut the competition in terms of price. While this has benefited the company in terms of profitability, it has also had a lasting impact on the well being of consumers. For instance, According to Mallaby (2005), "Wal-Mart's discounting on food alone boosts the welfare of American Shoppers by at least $50 billion a year." Hence in addition to being the world's leading retailer, the role Wal-Mart plays in the enhancement of consumer welfare cannot be overstated.
Grant, Robert, M. & Kent, E. Neupert. Cases in Contemporary Strategic Analysis. Wiley-Blackwell. 2003. Print.
Hicks, Michael, J. The Local Economic Impact of Wal-Mart. Cambridge Press. 2007. Print
Mallaby, Sebastian. "Progressive Wal-Mart. Really." Washington Post.…