Walmart Thinks Bigger, Gets Smaller
The largest company on earth by revenue got a little smaller this month. Walmart, the Bentonville, Arkansas headquartered retail behemoth and largest employer in the world announced it would close 269 of its 11,600 stores globally as part of a review of financial performance and a portfolio management aligned with strategic goals. The move represents approximately 2.3% of stores globally and includes 154 US locations and 102 of the company’s smallest format stores branded Walmart Express. To see a full list of affected stores, follow the link.
Small Format Pilot Ended`
The Walmart Express pilot program explored the notion of Walmart opening small-footprint outlets to compete with neighborhood and small-town dollar stores. The strategy was assumed by many to be a no-brainer given the company’s record of trillions of revenue made on low-cost merchandise.
But the program was reportedly plagued with supply chain issues that in some cases put hypermarket-sized package goods on convenience-store shelves, straining what the neighborhood customer could be expected to carry home.
The closures, while significant, don’t exactly derail the retail juggernaut’s long-form tale of expansion. Over 200 stores are in the pipeline for opening in 2016, according to a company press release:
“Walmart will continue to invest in its future, with plans to open stores worldwide in the coming fiscal year. Domestically, Walmart intends to open 50 to 60 Supercenters and 85 to 95 Neighborhood Markets in Fiscal 2017, which begins Feb. 1. In the same period, Sam’s Club plans to open in seven to 10 new locations. Internationally, Walmart intends to open between 200 and 240 stores during the coming year.”
In total, approximately 16,000 associates will be impacted by the decision, about 10,000 of them in the U.S. More than 95 percent of the closed stores in the U.S. are within 10 miles on average of another Walmart, and the hope is that these associates will be placed in nearby locations. Where that isn’t possible, the company will provide 60 days of pay and, if eligible, severance, as well as resume and interview skills training. Whether with Walmart or elsewhere, the company’s objective is to help all associates find their next job opportunity.
“The decision to close stores is difficult and we care about the associates who will be impacted,” McMillon said. “We invested considerable time assessing our stores and clubs and don’t take this lightly. We are supporting those impacted with extra pay and support, and we will take all appropriate steps to ensure they are treated well.”