The Power and Promise of One: Every Associate Can Make a Difference with Passion and Initiative

By David Cheesewright, President and CEO, Walmart International

June 05, 2015

Remarks as Prepared for David Cheesewright

Thank you, Dragon. Dragon is here representing store 1059 in Shenzhen, our Walmart International store of the year.

I've visited her store a few times and she's an amazing leader—very customer focused with a passion for pioneering new ideas and sharing them across the business. Thank you, Dragon, for showing us what great leadership looks like and the difference one associate can make.

Let’s give her a big round of applause!

The power of Walmart International is that we have more than 800,000 dedicated associates like Dragon.

Now, I'm very proud to introduce you to the 1,200 very special associates who have been selected by their peers to represent Walmart International.

So, Walmart International…say hello! Wow! That's a lot of energy for this early in the morning!

This week our associates have experienced first-hand the scale, passion and connection that exists across our business.

And they have promised to share this passion with their colleagues when they get home.

With all that energy I know they are going to inspire others to make a difference.

Business Update

For those who don't know, Walmart International operates in 27 countries with over 6,200 stores and 65 different banners.

We have e-commerce sites in 10 countries and serve over 100 million customers every week. Sales last year exceeded 136 billion dollars. So, as a stand-alone, we'd be the second largest retail business in the world. Last year, we opened 183 new stores—that's 9.4 million square feet of retail space.

We also have a number of big milestones this year:

  • A month ago, we entered our 27th country when we opened our Game store in Nairobi, Kenya
  • Argentina and Brazil celebrate their 20 year anniversaries
  • And our UK business is 50 years old this year

Strategic Priorities
International is a growth engine for Walmart and to succeed, we will continue to focus on our simple formula of being in good businesses and running them well.

To do this, we are keeping our strategic priorities very consistent.

We'll continue to actively manage our existing portfolio to ensure our business is simple, focused and well positioned for growth.

And we'll keep on being passionate about growing comp sales through price leadership and delivering compelling assortments. In fact, annual comps have now increased four quarters in a row!

We have a number of highlights, but I'd like to call out Todd Harbaugh and the Sam's team in Mexico. After a couple of tough years, they got serious about listening to members. They developed a simple plan to focus on the things their members said were important.

And we all know that happens when you listen to customers... it works! The clubs are better and comp sales last quarter were up 6.8%.

Next, we're accelerating ecommerce.

As I travel around the world, I continue to be amazed at the pace that customers shopping habits are changing They still want low prices but also more flexibility and convenience.

They expect more options for how they buy—whether it's in a store, on a smart phone, via home delivery or pick up, or even how they pay.

We are seeing strong growth again this year, and with our partners at Global e- Commerce, we're continuing to trial innovative new ideas to improve our offer for customers. And our "acceleration team" ensures these ideas are consistently and quickly rolled out across our markets.

Key Enablers
Finally, all of this is underpinned by the three enablers we talked about last year.

It starts with ensuring we have everyday low cost so our customers can have everyday low prices. Our ability to work together to share ideas and best practices is having a big impact across our operations.

Next, we want to build trust by investing in our communities, delivering on our sustainability goals and continuing to improve our world class compliance programs. But above all, trust is built by ensuring we always do the right thing. Acting with integrity is everyone's responsibility. 

Our People
The final enabler is our people…you!

Now, there are lots of great things about our business, but the ability for anyone and everyone to make a difference is perhaps the most powerful.

Sam Walton said, "The key to success is to listen to what associates have to say." He understood the power of engaging everyone in the business towards finding ways to make it better. He understood the best ideas come from associates who interact directly with customers. He also understood that ideas are only valuable if they turn into actions.

Everyone has ideas; we need associates who passionately implement their ideas and leaders who support them.

 Let me finish with a few examples of how everyday actions really matter at Walmart.

Associate Stories

Demonstrating customer service and integrity
It was near Christmas when Diana and Les Habkirk visited our store in Sarnia, Canada to buy gift cards for their grandchildren.

At the register, they realized they'd lost the envelope containing the cash they'd been saving. After Ephie Smith, a morning cashier, discovered the money and turned it in, the store went out of their way to track down the couple to tell them it had been found. They were at the bank taking out more money, so they could return and purchase the gift cards and went from being distraught to delighted.

Now, I bet they told all their friends about their experience. What a great example of customer service and acting with integrity!

Taking initiative through promotion
In Brazil, Gerson Rodrigo Antonio, a store manager, noticed sales were poor every Wednesday when competitors had promotions on fruit and vegetables. So, Gerson and his team organized "customer breakfasts" where they sampled fruit, breads and juices.

This attracted new customers who noticed not only our excellent quality but also that our everyday prices were often better than those advertised by our competitors. They told their friends and family and now Wednesday is one of Gerson's store's strongest days!

What a simple and effective idea!

Supporting local communities through business development
Finally, in India, there's a woman-led non-profit operation called "From Trash to Cash.” Volunteers collect flowers from temples after use. These flowers are sorted, cleaned, dried, and powdered for the Indian festival of colors called Holi. The work provides a livelihood for differently-abled women and men.

Our buyer, Deepak Gandhi, and his team saw the Holi colors as an opportunity that would drive sales and support a special cause at the same time. He began working with the owner as part of our Women's Economic Empowerment effort. We've provided the owner with guidance and commitment that has allowed her to increase capacity and make her business stronger, and she's now producing new product lines.

Now, these are not big ideas. They're simple examples of passionate associates taking the initiative. But they're important because they influence others to make a difference, too.

So, if you only remember one idea from this morning, remember that the greatest thing about Walmart is that here, everyone can make a difference.

Keep being our innovators. Help us improve our business every day. Keep providing customers with outstanding service.

And above all, share your ideas. Share the passion you have experienced this week. Share your commitment. Our customers are counting on you, every day, in every corner of the world—and so am I.

Thank you for everything