Duke: Walmart "Making Progress" on Key Areas

Mike DukeMike Duke

ROGERS, Ark.-Walmart is "making substantial or, in some cases, even 'step-change' progress" in key areas of its business, according to Mike Duke, president and CEO.

In his opening remarks at the company's 20th annual meeting for the investment community here today, Duke said Walmart is progressing on e-commerce, compliance, leverage initiatives, capital discipline, talent recruitment and corporate responsibility. At the same time, the retailer is focusing on "near-term execution" to increase same-store sales for Walmart U.S., improve returns from Walmart International and leverage expenses for the full year, he said.

Regarding the effort to grow U.S. same-store sales, Duke said, "When you go to our stores, you're going to see fantastic new merchandise, aggressive investments in price through lots of rollbacks and better in-stock levels." Looking at Walmart International, he said the division has recently assessed its portfolio and made strategic decisions on current operations.

Duke also said Walmart's investments in leverage initiatives are paying off in terms of reduced shipping costs and increased transportation efficiency by the U.S. logistics team. He also said he "loved the progress that the company has made in e-commerce over the past year. We've never been more connected across the company on e-commerce, and our results demonstrate this." Walmart's e-commerce sales grew 30 percent globally in the first half of this year, according to a statement about the event.

Focusing on compliance, Duke said Walmart has made "major investments" in this effort over the past year in improving processes and procedures, increasing training for associates and strengthening organizational leadership. "This is the right thing to do," he said. "And let me be clear that our progress with compliance makes us a stronger business for the long term."

Duke added that Walmart has done work to make a difference on "big issues" throughout the world, accelerating its commitments to renewable energy, reducing certain chemicals in products and helping to revitalize U.S. manufacturing. "We set the pace for how companies take on big issues facing society," he said, "and we'll keep leading because it's good for our business."

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