business news in context, analysis with attitude

  • Wal-Mart reportedly will spend more than $36 million (US) to open a store in Hangzhou, the capital of east China's Zhejiang Province.

    The store will be Wal-Mart’s first in the province, though Wal-Mart already has opened 39 outlets in 19 Chinese cities, and employs more than 20,000 people there.

  • CBS MarketWatch reports that Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club – along with large auto parts dealers such as Auto Zone and 13 auto parts manufacturers – are being sued by a coalition of 160 independent car parts shops, charging that the giant stores enjoy preferential pricing from manufacturers that allow them to drive independent retailers out of business.

    The report notes that Wal-Mart and Goodyear Tire also are being sued along similar lines.

    "This appears to be another in a series of lawsuits from a lawyer who targets various industries," said Gus Whitcomb, spokesman for Wal-Mart. "We haven't been served with this suit yet, but if we are in fact named, we will vigorously defend ourselves against these inflammatory charges."

KC's View:
As we reported earlier this week, Retail Forward’s Tom Rubel told Portland State university’s Food Industry Leadership Conference that China is “the single most important business phenomenon in your lifetime,” and noted that Wal-Mart sees it as the only nation where it can replicate the kind of store density it has achieved in the US.

But it also occurs to us, as we read these two stories, that one of the reasons that Wal-Mart likes China is that there probably are fewer lawsuits filed there.

When you think of the famous photograph of Tiananmen Square, do you picture Wal-Mart as being the tank, or the single individual holding up his hand in protest?