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  • The New York Times reports on Wal-Mart’s mixed results outside the US: “Cultural obstacles on both sides of the relationship are often the reason; products that sell out quickly in American stores may simply clog the shelves abroad, and there can be built-in resistance to the encroachment of an American company on local business. Also, big, deep-pocketed companies like the French retailer Carrefour can be powerful competitors.” In addition , there are cultural, labor and political disconnects that sometimes can get in the company’s way.

    History has shown that Wal-Mart seems to better by purchasing foreign companies – as it did in the UK with Asda, and in Japan with its investment in Seiyu – and integrating them into the company, as opposed to building from scratch in a foreign country.

    History also suggests that whatever its past experiences, Wal-Mart cannot afford to stop growing its international business. Consultant/analysts Burt Flickinger III tells the NYT, "As efforts to block Wal-Mart stores in the continental United States continue, Wal-Mart desperately needs to be successful in South America and in southern Asia.”

  • In the UK, the Independent reports that Asda’s methods of motivating employees and improving performance has proven so successful that its parent company, Wal-Mart, plans on using them in the rest of the company.

    "We know that making our business the best place to work will also make it the best place to shop," Asda's people director, David Smith, tells the paper. "Customers expect great products, quality and value for money, but our customer numbers are increasing because people also see friendly faces and feel welcome. Unhappy people don't smile and chat with customers. Our staff do because they genuinely enjoy coming to work. We believe many of our ideas for releasing the potential of colleagues and increasing job satisfaction can be used throughout the Wal-Mart family."

    Among these ideas are expanded training procedures for managers as well as using new criteria for assessing management potential when recruiting. It also means doing a better job of creating a team environment in the stores, which allows for better performance overall.

    One of the more interesting things that Asda does in the UK is offer fathers of multiple births an extra two weeks paid paternity leave, which can be combined with a further three months unpaid leave that keeps their benefits intact and give them the right to return to their old job.

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