In the retail universe, there are retailers and then there is Walmart. Normal rules do not apply to this US colossus, whose annual revenues of over $500bn are roughly equal to those of the next four global retail groups combined. With Walmart, all the numbers are big. The company is the world's largest non-governmental employer, with around 2.3m associates. Approximately 260m people visit Walmart's stores every week, and 78% of American households shop there at least once a year. But America is by no means the only market to experience the Walmart effect. The group is also a force in the international arena with operations in 27 other countries in Latin America, Europe and Asia. Yet the business is only a little over 50 years old, and virtually all its extraordinary growth in the US since the first Walmart store opened in 1962 has been generated organically, rather than as a result of acquisition.
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Adbrands Weekly Update 5th July 2018: Walmart named former TripAdvisor executive Barbara Messing as its new US chief marketing officer, taking over from Tony Rogers, who is moving across into the group's Sam's Club division. At the same time, Janey Whiteside is joining the group from American Express in the role of chief customer officer for Walmart US and its Walmart.com and Jet.com ecommerce division.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Jun 2018: In a surprise move, Walmart said that CMO Tony Rogers will transfer to the group's warehouse subsidiary Sam's Club in the newly created role of chief member officer later this summer. His successor at the main Walmart division will be announced shortly.
Adbrands Weekly Update 7th Jun 2018: Walmart began testing a members-only online shopping service in New York, along similar lines to Amazon's Prime, but targeting a more exclusive upscale clientele. Jetblack - nominally a spin-off from the Jet.com massmarket ecommerce site acquired by Walmart in 2016 - is positioned as a personal shopping and concierge service, giving customers the ability to order products by text message and offering same-day or next-day delivery. Membership costs a pricey $50 a month.
Adbrands Weekly Update 10th May 2018: Walmart may be stepping back from some international territories like the UK - where it has agreed to relinquish ownership of supermarket chain Asda in favour of a majority stake in a merged Sainsbury's-Asda - but it is ramping up investment in selected other territories. The group finalised a deal to acquire 77% of India's biggest online retailer Flipkart for $16bn, opening a new battle front against Walmart's arch-rival Amazon, currently #2 in India. The local ecommerce market is still small, worth around $20bn in sales in 2017, but it is growing rapidly, expected to double in size by 2020. Flipkart had sales of $4.6bn for the year ended March. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon identified India as one of the store's key growth markets earlier this year, behind North America and China.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Apr 2018: Walmart has identified one potential new path for growth in the US, and it's healthcare. The group opened preliminary talks to acquire health insurer Humana in what would be its biggest ever deal if it comes off. The price tag is likely to be somewhere close to $50bn, more than four times what Walmart paid for UK supermarket chain Asda in 1999, currently its biggest deal to-date. Even for Walmart - with mammoth sales of over $500bn a year - that's a substantial sum. The company has comparatively little cash on hand so might need to dilute the Walton family's controlling 54% stake via an all-stock deal. Humana is America's second-biggest provider of private Medicare Advantage plans, seen as the industry's biggest growth curve, and it also has a substantial pharmacy benefits unit, which negotiates drug pricing. This would mesh with Walmart's massive existing pharmacy business - almost all of its 4,700 US outlets contain a pharmacy counter.
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