FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. — From sweat-absorbing underwear sold in Japan to Will & Kate mugs marketed in the United Kingdom, Wal-Mart on Wednesday offered a taste of the products making the company’s $109 billion international business its growth engine.
“Our competition is getting better all over
the world,” said Mike Duke, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. at a pep-rally style event for about 2,000 associates, including 1,500 store workers who came from 15 countries. “That’s why it’s so critical to focus on the customer.”
The 4 1/2-hour event at a University of Arkansas arena was peppered with speeches from executives representing each of the country divisions, along with tango performers and other entertainment. It was part of a week of events leading up to Friday’s shareholder meeting.
Wal-Mart has increasingly turned to its international division to offset a slump in its U.S. business, which has seen eight straight quarters of year-over-year declines.
Wal-Mart is exporting its “Every Day Low Price” strategy to stores in Central America and Brazil where it wasn’t a practice. Every Day Low Prices means offering low prices across the entire store, not temporary deep price cuts on selected items.
Wal-Mart’s international business now accounts for 26 percent of company revenue, which reached $419 billion in its fiscal year ended Jan. 31. In its fiscal first quarter, Wal-Mart’s international revenue rose 11.5 percent, compared with a 0.6 percent increase at its U.S. namesake business.
Mexico, Chile and China showed the biggest gains, but all countries had shown increases, with the exception of Japan, hurt by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, the company had reported last month.