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Wal-Mart Post-Peterson

It seems like just yesterday we were writing the news but, come March 1, 2008, it will be one year since Bruce Peterson left Wal-Mart. We’ve kept the industry up to date on Bruce’s activities with many articles, including these:

Wal-Mart’s Bruce Peterson Resigns

Bruce Peterson Focus On Traceability

Bruce Peterson Lands At Naturipe As Its New President/CEO

Naturipe’s Peterson Builds All Star Management Team

We’ve also kept the industry up to date on changes at Wal-Mart since Bruce left, running many pieces including these:

Wal-Mart Continues To Change Its Buying Practices described how Wal-Mart executives have to think long and hard about how Opportunity Buys, Global Procurement and business assignment can be done so as to avoid creating inefficiencies. 3/1/2007

Ron McCormick Of Wal-Mart Elaborates On Its Procurement Reorganization summarized a conversation with Ron McCormick, vice president of produce for Wal-Mart, on its buying structure and the reorganization of procurement. 3/2/2007

Pundit’s Mailbag — Wal-Mart’s Market Managers provided comments from Keith Anderson of Management Ventures, Inc., on Wal-Mart’s new “Market Grocery Managers”, who are limited in the contribution they can make, and this fragmentation of authority has caused there to be less uniformity in execution. 3/9/2007

Organics One Year Later — Wal-Mart, Whole Foods & Wild Oats shared reactions from the Reuters Food Summit and a news report explaining that organic versions of products are experiencing modest sales, and food industry executives are increasingly sensing that growth may come with a different focus such as natural or local. 3/14/2007

What Is Wal-Mart’s Role In The New NRA Food Safety Standards? warned the Foodservice Leadership Council has been drafting new food safety requirements for fresh produce, which could blow up in everyone’s face. Wal-Mart doesn’t believe private groups should set standards, even though they helped to initiate them. 3/15/2007

Wal-Mart: The Name On The Door Is the Same; The Thoughts Inside Are Very Different pointed out that no one with any historical connection to Wal-Mart’s heritage exists in any major responsible position, with a quick comparison and contrast of historical core values against the new regime. 4/10/2007

Good News For Wal-Mart reported that TNS figures show that ASDA is Britain’s fastest-growing retailer and is outperforming the rest of the retail sector for the first time in three years. 4/17/2007

Tesco’s US/Japan Small-Store Strategy Contrasts With Wal-Mart’s Big-Store Plan shows similarity in the competition between the Airbus A380 and the Boeing Dreamliner as compared to Wal-Mart’s lack of urgency in responding to the Tesco invasion in the Southwest, both examples, at their core, concern differing visions of the future. 4/24/2007

Tesco’s Small Store Format Not Unnoticed At Wal-Mart asked why Wal-Mart would consider small store formats when Supercenters are still viable, plus, Wal-Mart will need thousands to make an impact. Still, the company gave a new executive the task of developing it, a former Tesco chief executive. 5/2/2007

Activists Target Wal-Mart In Mexico While Company Accommodates Local Culture scoffed at activists who enjoy the panoply of retailers and restaurants in San Francisco but seem to want to deny people in developing countries the right to make these decisions for themselves and their families. 5/9/2007

Wal-Mart’s Latest ‘Green’ Move Gives Pause To Explore Sustainability Rationale specified three categories for achieving sustainability initiatives: Those that produce positive ROI, those that produce a “reputational dividend, and those that lose money for a company’s shareholders. But really, what is all the fuss about? 5/10/2007

Tesco, Whole Foods And Wal-Mart Concepts Tested On Both Sides Of The Pond looked broadly at the ideas these retailers are exporting, and how they will play out in their new surroundings; in the end, success or failure may come down to the details. 5/15/2007

Ben Stein On Wal-Mart offers commentary on the opening of a Wal-Mart in Manhattan from actor and columnist Ben Stein. 5/16/2007

Wal-Mart’s Changing Treatment Of Suppliers explains how Wal-Mart needs its produce suppliers more than they need Wal-Mart, and unhappiness in the supply community over perceived mistreatment is fueling interest in the unproven concept that Tesco is bringing to America. 5/17/2007

Calls On Wal-Mart Point To More Vendor Negativity continued to show that Wal-Mart is losing priceless equity with the vending community and their former good name is being allowed to waste away. 5/18/2007

Clash Of Corporate Cultures Seen In Contrast Between Wal-Mart/ASDA Essentials And Tesco/Fresh & Easy examined problems with the Wal-Mart/ASDA Essentials small store concept including pricing, merchandising and store branding. 5/29/2007

‘Anyone But Wal-Mart’ expanded on our earlier pieces concerning vendor dissatisfaction with Wal-Mart. Vendors have seen the writing on the wall and are working feverishly to diversify their business away from Wal-Mart. 5/30/2007

Has Wal-Mart’s Desire To Buy Cheaper Changed Its Values? continued coverage of the procurement transformation at Wal-Mart, with detail on the slew of issues surrounding it and growing vendor dissent with the mega retailer. 6/1/2007

Wal-Mart’s ‘Opportunity Buy’ Policy Reveals Much About The Company recapped our series on procurement reorganization and vendor discontent. Points out that Wal-Mart is moving away from the integrated supply chain in favor of traditional produce industry transactional deals, which has implications for the entire trade. 6/5/2007

From The Frying Pan Into The Fire — Wal-Mart Finds Another Way To Alienate Suppliers disclosed reports from Ace PACA lawyer Larry Meuers that an outside firm has begun auditing transactions between Wal-Mart and its suppliers, with discrepancies being demanded repaid. So much for the “partnership” relationship with Wal-Mart. 6/7/2007

Pundit’s Mailbag — In Defense Of Wal-Mart excerpts a letter from Ken Kodish, AYCO FARMS, who suggests that unscrupulous vendors who gorged themselves at the expense of Wal-Mart prompted recent changes to the procurement system and audits of supplier transactions, It seems more plausible that the combined efforts of everyone to serve the consumer has allowed for the creation of so much wealth. 6/8/2007

Pundit’s Mailbag — Are Supermarket Chains Catching Up to Wal-Mart? revealed an immensely important point from Keith Anderson, MVI (Management Ventures, Inc.) that Wal-Mart, it is projected, will for the first time since supercenters started rolling across America, grow more slowly than the average U.S. retail chain. 6/13/2007

A Solution For Wal-Mart’s Organic Woes dealt with the impossibility for Wal-Mart to procure enough organic fresh produce to fulfill the hype. However, Wal-Mart could take the lead in selling organics while positioning itself as both a friend of the farmer and one really helping to move society on environmental issues. 6/14/2007

Working With Wal-Mart May Not Be As Bad As You Think — Tesco Could Be Tougher! examined how U.S. vendors may be excited about Tesco’s arrival in America, enabling them to diversify their business away from Wal-Mart, but the grass may not be greener once a Tescopoly takes hold. 6/15/2007

Wal-Mart In India Faces Tremendous Obstacles extolled that involvement in a market the size of India’s is almost irresistible, but protesters, political activists, trade federations and merchants are binding together to fight new competitors. 6/19/2007

How Wal-Mart Lost A Customer related an anecdote from an unsatisfied Wal-Mart customer who lost a day of work, his keys and his patience with the mega retailer. 6/19/2007

Loblaw’s Holds Off Wal-Mart With A Fresh Foods Strategy pointed out that Loblaw is the great colossus of the north. Back in 2004, the speculation was that the goal was to keep Wal-Mart from opening supercenters in Canada. It didn’t work, but it is in a better position to fight Wal-Mart than most American chains. 6/20/2007

ASDA/Wal-Mart And Tesco Price Wars Portend Future Of Having To Take Sides foretells of trouble ahead for U.S. suppliers after an ultimatum from ASDA’s business unit director: “We will only back those who back us.” 7/24/2007

Wal-Mart Eyes India For Future Growth announced Wal-Mart’s partner in India has set the opening of its first store for mid-2008, with 200 stores by 2015 and expected annual sales in 2015 of $5 billion. Challenges include irregular infrastructure, real estate, and the hope that India will relax its laws and allow Wal-Mart to buy the stores. 7/25/2007

Carrefour Judgment In India May Be A Good Sign For Wal-Mart reported news that indicates India is really changing and Wal-Mart may be correct in its judgment about the direction of Indian society. 7/26/2007

Wal-Mart’s ‘Save Money — Live Better’ Slogan Is Step In Right Direction announced Wal-Mart’s new slogan. The new one is unquestionably better; it is based on an important reality that Wal-Mart needs to emphasize that its low prices translate into better lives for tens of millions of families. 9/14/2007

Wegmans, Wal-Mart And Media Bias questioned glowing media reports on the opening of a new Wegmans in Pennsylvania, which tell us less about the quality of Wegmans than about the cultural predisposition of the media. 9/18/2007

Wal-Mart Looks To Keep Deep Discounters At Bay reminded that although taking the margin hit is perceived as a high risk strategy, it could also be a big winner. 9/20/2007

Wal-Mart Joins Fray In Carbon Profiling revealed Tesco in the UK was already asking U.S. exporters to do it; now Wal-Mart is asking suppliers of select items to ascertain the amount of energy they use and their total carbon footprint, which used properly, could be helpful, but there are dangers. 9/25/2007

Wall Street Over-Analyzes Wal-Mart Woes excerpts an article from the Wall Street Journal, which states the Wal-Mart era is drawing to a close, with critique of its analysis from the Pundit and our own three primary causes for the problems at Wal-Mart. 10/4/2007

Wal-Mart’s ASDA Serious About Sustainability repeated that Wal-Mart is pretty hot on sustainability initiatives, but its UK subsidiary, ASDA, is really focused. We believe consumers are skeptical that all this stuff isn’t just another way to increase profits. 10/5/2007

High Lettuce Prices Strain Supplier Relations With Wal-Mart discussed that though things have been quiet at Wal-Mart, with many vendors reporting a sincere effort by the company to amicably resolve disputes, the inherent tension between the desire to contract and the desire to take advantage of market dips remains unresolved. 10/19/2007

Wal-Mart Tightens Quality Specs explained that Wal-Mart has quality issues but the quality issues have to do with inconsistent store level execution, not with the quality being purchased. 10/24/2007

Pundit’s Mailbag — Wal-Mart’s Path Of Decreased Store-Level Execution shared industry comments that all seem to agree on our main point: That Wal-Mart’s quality problems have nothing to do with procurement and everything to do with store level execution. 10/25/2007

Wal-Mart’s Global Procurement Division Gets Special Pass On Quality reported many Wal-Mart vendors have no problem with higher quality specs; in fact, the best vendors tend to see them as a competitive advantage. What is more of a concern is uneven application of the standards, especially as it relates to global procurement. 10/26/2007

Is Wal-Mart Foolish For Focusing On Small Savings? indicated very often the thirst to eliminate a “middleman” and the supposed “excess cost” he represents stumbles over a surprise — the value that intermediaries can often provide. The real question is, ‘Are there any savings by importing independently of that system?’ 10/30/2007

Pundit’s Mailbag — Wal-Mart Lacks Store Level Produce TLC followed up on our series on Wal-Mart and quality with a letter from Helene Dembroski of Dembroski Orchards Inc. who agrees that when we find poor quality produce being presented to consumers, it is usually due to poor store level execution. 11/2/2007

Pundit’s Mailbag — Wal-Mart’s Short Term Mentality Hurts Produce recognized that top executives outside of produce are trying to save money via procurement instead of through enhanced marketing efforts or improved customer service. Its actions in produce can be seen as an outgrowth of overall short-term thinking. 11/9/2007

Is Wal-Mart’s ‘Heritage Agriculture’ An Initiative Driven By The Consumer Or By the CEO? The “Heritage Agriculture” initiative sounds great, as introduced by Ron McCormick, VP of Produce at Wal-Mart, to the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. Perhaps most interesting is that there was not one mention of consumer demand for these initiatives, and it probably won’t take costs out of the system. 11/30/2007

Wayne McKnight To Leave Wal-Mart reported that the brain drain of industry luminaries exiting Wal-Mart continues. We do know that this is a big loss for Wal-Mart in one of its most important initiatives, and his availability will be a big gain for some lucky food company. 12/20/2007

India’s Farmers And Traders Counter Wal-Mart By Competing continued our coverage of Wal-Mart’s expansion into India. Now comes word that farmers and traders are now going into business to block Wal-Mart — and getting public subsidies to do so. 1/11/2008

Wal-Mart Takes On Tesco With 20,000-Square-Foot Stores announced Wal-Mart will open four small-format grocery stores in Arizona this year under the trade name, “Marketside”, directly combating Tesco’s new Fresh & Easy Markets. However… you need a lot of little stores to equal one Supercenter. 1/15/2008

Wal-Mart Takes On Tesco With 20,000-Square-Foot Stores announced Wal-Mart will open four small-format grocery stores in Arizona this year under the trade name, “Marketside”, directly combating Tesco’s new Fresh & Easy Markets. However… you need a lot of little stores to equal one Supercenter. 1/15/2008

Wal-Mart Loses Another Star: South Africa’s Danie Kieviet To Leave followed the loss of Bob DiPiazza, Bruce Peterson, Wayne McKnight and the cultural shift at Wal-Mart we discussed in conjunction with John Menzer’s departure. Danie Kievet’s departure is very bad news for Wal-Mart. 1/29/2008

Pundit’s Mailbag — Rough Ride For Wal-Mart/ASDA: Kievet Could Have Been A Big Asset shared a letter from Stoney Steenkamp of Fruits Unlimited in response to our piece on Danie Kievet’s departure from Wal-Mart. The problem for large companies is that leveraging that size is very difficult, and that they aren’t good at dealing with the likes of Danie, who is an entrepreneur at heart. 2/1/2008

Wal-Mart Revamps Procurement System explained that on the face of it, the reorganization of Wal-Mart’s procurement system is not necessarily good or bad for the vendor community. The $64,000 question is how will these four areas interact? 2/5/2008

Wal-Mart Uses New Food Safety Initiative As A Marketing Tool assessed a statement Wal-Mart recently issued requiring all perishables suppliers to be certified by Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) standards, includes an explanation in our interview with Catherine Francois, Senior Manager of Food Safety at CIES-The Food Business Forum and analysis from the Pundit. 2/8/2008

Just Say No: The New Dynamic Of Producer/Buyer Relations examined how buyers, beyond big retailers, have so pressed their advantage that producers, beyond the banana giants, are increasingly just saying “What is the point?” The uncertainty of future options with Wal-Mart, for example, is one reason why Tesco’s Journey to America was so welcomed by America’s suppliers when it was first announced. Yet Tesco may well disappoint U.S. producers. 2/22/2008

So in the last year, we wrote four articles about changes in Bruce’s life and 53 articles about changes at Wal-Mart. From this we deduce that Wal-Mart has changed more without Bruce than Bruce has changed without Wal-Mart.

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