FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., June 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- At the company's annual shareholders meeting, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. President and CEO Mike Duke took the occasion of the retailer's 50th year in business to highlight five "enduring values" that have long been a core strength for the company and will continue to drive its success: integrity, opportunity, family and community, purpose and responsibility. Duke believes customers around the world will only increasingly expect companies to reflect these values in the years ahead.
"You can't build a company of our size, over a 50-year time period, during so much change in the world, on a weak foundation," said Duke. "It requires bedrock that runs deep, building blocks that stay strong, and mortar that binds it all together. The values that built Walmart, defined Walmart and sustained Walmart for the past 50 years will drive our success and make us proud for the next 50 years."
The CEO also praised the recent performance of its business segments and the company's progress in building the Next Generation Walmart. Duke applauded Walmart U.S. stores' sales comps, Walmart International's profit growth and continued sales momentum at Sam's Club. He also highlighted progress made with the productivity loop, in Global eCommerce and recruiting and retaining talent. Duke added: "I've said this before, and I'll say it again, Walmart is the best-positioned global retailer in the world today."
Duke highlighted five "enduring values" throughout his remarks:
- Integrity: Duke called integrity the company's "bedrock" value, saying: "If you work for Walmart, there is no gray area between right and wrong. It's either the right thing to do, or it shouldn't be done at all. We will not accept anything less than integrity." Addressing recent allegations, he added, "We're working to continually strengthen our compliance efforts around the world. And I want to personally assure you, we're doing everything we can to get to the bottom of this matter. We will take appropriate action when the investigation is complete."
- Opportunity: While discussing the training and advancement opportunities that Walmart provides around the world, Duke said: "If you work hard, develop your skills, and do a good job, you can advance at Walmart. A great example is U.S. stores, where nearly 75 percent of store management teams started as hourly associates. Nothing makes me prouder than to see associates climb the ladder and build a better life for themselves and their family."
- Family and Community: Early in his speech, Duke talked about the company's long history of going above and beyond when communities are hit by crises. He said that spirit is strong at Walmart every day: "When I tour a store, I love hearing an associate call a customer by name. And I really light up when that associate asks about the customer's kids by name. The fact is we aren't just associates and customers in our stores. We're people who grew up together, and worship together, and live on the same streets. We're friends and neighbors."
- Purpose: Duke talked about how Walmart serves millions of customers around the world aspiring to the middle class and how the company's purpose of saving people money so they can live better helps them: "Whether I'm in China, or New Mexico, or South Africa, nothing makes it more real than when I visit customers in their homes. I get to know them and see what Walmart really means in their lives. At Walmart, you better believe our work adds up to better lives and a better world."
- Responsibility: Duke echoed the responsibility theme he's highlighted in previous shareholder speeches: "We've been so fortunate with our success over the past 50 years. And when you're given so much, you have a responsibility to give back and do good. Walmart is making food healthier, our planet greener, and the communities we work in and live in stronger. We're making a difference -- a big, big difference."
Duke closed his remarks by reflecting on the timeless contributions of the company's iconic founder, Sam Walton. "I believe Sam Walton's greatest legacy was the foundation he built -- the culture, the beliefs and the enduring values," Duke said. "We can't possibly envision what the world, what retailing, what Walmart will look like in another 50 years. But if we stay true to the foundation that Sam Walton built, we'll continue to be a better company, a stronger company and a prouder company. And over the next 50 years, there will be no limit to the good we can do around the world."
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at more than 10,130 retail units under 69 different banners in 27 countries. With fiscal year 2012 sales of approximately $444 billion, Walmart employs more than 2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://walmartstores.com and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmart. Online merchandise sales are available at http://www.walmart.com and http://www.samsclub.com.
SOURCE Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.