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.
Breaking: @cushnieetochs’ co-founders @carlycushnie and @ochsmichelle are parting ways. After a 10-year run, Ochs is leaving the brand. Get the full story on WWD.com – link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
@maybelline’s Kanako Takase had snow bunnies in mind when creating the beauty look for @philipppleininternational. Playing off of the bedazzled snowboards in the collection, Takase mixed two highlighters together for a luminous sheen. #wwdbeauty #nyfw (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
“There’s a huge gap between the old way of doing things and today. It takes the youth to help evolve that. You have to count on the kids today to help lead you into the future. A lot of these retailers are stuck in the past. Communication is the biggest thing,” said @ronniefieg of @kith on the youth’s role in retail. On Monday night, Jeff Staple moderated a keynote session with Fieg and @syresmith at Assembly - a series of workshops, talks and keynotes addressing topics or issues in the apparel industry. Head to WWD.com to read more advice from Fieg and what Smith thinks of his dad @willsmith’s Instagram account and sustainability (📷: @weston.wells)
@joansmalls closed the @michaelkors fall 2018 show in black sequined pants and a varsity T printed with 19 on the front and 81 on the back. 1981 – the year Kors went into business. #wwdfashion #nfyw (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
“You think your life is going to be a certain way, and nothing you thought would happen ends up happening. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be designing clothes and working with Mickey Drexler, and building something I’m deeply proud of,” said Jenna Lyons. Nine months after leaving @jcrew, Lyons is exploring the meaning of happiness. Read the interview, where Lyons talks about reinvention and more on WWD.com – link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Farrell) #jennalyons #jcrew