business news in context, analysis with attitude

  • Wal-Mart Stores is commencing an advertising campaign to counter criticism that it does not pay its workers appropriately.

    The first ad will run in more than 100 newspapers today, and will focus on both wages and benefits. It is an open letter from CEO Lee Scott under the headline “Wal-Mart is working for everyone: Some of our critics are working only for themselves.”

    The company also is launching a new website designed to fight public perceptions:

  • The Tennessean reports that Wal-Mart is preparing to open its second of two Neighborhood Markets in Madison, Tennessee, as it continues to roll out its supermarket concept in a variety of markets.

    According to Wal-Mart’s website, the company has 15 Neighborhood Markets scheduled to open just this month – including four in Las Vegas and two in Melbourne, Fla.

    Of course, while 15 Neighborhood Markets sounds like a lot, it pales compared to the 50 supercenters it plans to open this month.

  • According to a projection by Moody’s Investors Service, Wal-Mart’s next major business push will be into apparel and accessories, and could use its supply chain muscle to gain an “insurmountable advantage.”

    Wal-Mart’s current apparel sales are estimated to be about $38 billion annually, but Moody’s predicts that they will hit $78 billion by 2010.

  • Wal-Mart Stores reportedly has gotten the Chinese government’s approval to open three stores in Shanghai later this year.

  • MNB reported last year that Wal-Mart was battling with a group of Jesuit priests in Guelph, Ontario, over the proposed construction of a 125,000 square foot supercenter.

    The priests - led by the ironically named Father Jim Profit – objected to the store because it was adjacent to property that they had used to develop a sense of spirituality and solitude for almost a century.

    However, the local zoning board ruled that Wal-Mart’s application for a rezoning of the property should be allowed, which will pave the way for the store to be built.

KC's View:
We’ve always believed that there is a special place in hell for people who mess with the Jesuits. (We say that being the product of a Jesuit education at the wonderful Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.)

Wal-Mart may have crossed a line here that it should have respected.