FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Few, if any companies, could put on such a big and bold extravaganza, especially in these times. The Wal-Mart annual shareholders’ meeting at the University of Arkansas’ Bud Walton Arena on Friday was equal parts self-congratulation, motivation and entertainment.
“Annual,” as the initiated call it, is a tradition. What’s more, Wal-Mart has much to crow about: global sales in fiscal 2009 of $401 billion and, on Thursday, the retailer said it will create 22,000 jobs, mainly in its U.S. stores.
“We have a story to tell, and we think it’s a good one,” said a Wal-Mart spokesman, adding that, “Annual gives the company the opportunity to tell it.
Ben Stiller, who was the meeting’s master of ceremonies, poked fun at the deeply ingrained Wal-Mart culture.
“Man, you guys like to get up early,” he said, referring to the event’s 7 a.m. start time. “I hear they’re still sleeping over at Target.”
Mike Duke, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., presided over his first annual meeting; Duke succeeded Lee Scott, who retired in February. “Last fiscal year, earnings were up 6 percent to $3.35 per share,” he said. “We returned $7.3 billion to our shareholders. We closed the year with about $11.6 billion in free cash flow.”
Vice chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright noted that every month for five consecutive quarters, the company has reported better comparative growth than the market (although Wal-Mart recently decided to no longer report monthly comp-store sales, May being the first month it did not do so). “I believe we’ve achieved the best inventory flows, and our profits grew faster than sales last year,” he said.
A grooming moment between @tanfrance and @antoni last night at the The LGBT Community Center Trailblazer Awards honoring Anna Wintour, Ricky Martin and more. See more photos at WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
“It was a very surreal feeling. It wasn’t like we were in the studio together coming up with it — it’s more like he discovered it and loved it. I didn’t let myself get my hopes up, but then it happened it was very exciting,” said singer-songwriter @nombe on discovering that @pharrell would be using his song, “Cant Catch Me” on his HBO documentary series “Outpost.” The German-born singer — named Noah MacBeth — talked to WWD about feminism, using art as a platform for political expression and personal style. Read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
This season, denim is going west – in influence. Brands like @fathersdaughterla (pictured here), @tommyhilfiger Jeans, @levis and more are opting for raw, top-stitching styles. (Styled by @thealexbadia; 📷: @ryanplett)
20-year-old British singer @jorjasmith_ made her debut at Coachella last weekend. We caught up with her and talked about her love for Amy Winehouse, working with Kendrick Lamar on the “Black Panther” album and her fashion philosophy. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @katiedaisyla)
Supermodel @helenachristensen teamed up with longtime friend and designer @camillastaerk on a joint @paredeyewear collaboration. The lineup features three styles and 11 offerings, all of which embody a vintage feel. Get all the details on how they celebrated the collab on WWD.com. #wwdaccessories #wwdeye (📷: @slovekinpics)
“It’s a hard industry to keep motivated, as well, so finding different subjects and people is what makes it worth it – when you’re like, oh, I’ve met great people, I feel like I’ve done something good, and I feel proud of having done this,” said French actress Stacy Martin on being grateful for the variety of roles she’s take on. Read @ktauer’s full interview with Martin on her her latest film “Godard Mon Amour.” #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)