BEIJING — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is moving forward with plans to restructure its China management team by moving hundreds of managers to new stores, despite reports in Chinese media that labor unions had blocked the proposal, a company spokesman said.
This story first appeared in the April 23, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We’re still going ahead with that plan; what has to be adjusted is the implementation,” Jonathan Dong, spokesman for Wal-Mart in China, said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “We need to take into account that some people would prefer to stay where they are rather than going to a new store.”
Under the proposal, up to 1,400 managers — an entire tier of the current five-level Wal-Mart China management structure — would be moved into stores opening in smaller cities across the country. Dong said the retail giant, which has 147 stores in China, has opened stores in new locations this year.
“By removing that layer [from existing stores], that frees up management people to support the growth,” said Dong.
Employees have reportedly objected to the plan for a variety of reasons, state media said. On Monday evening, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Wal-Mart had dropped its management restructuring proposal after complaints from the All China Federation of Trade Unions. The government-backed union represents employees at all Wal-Mart locations in China, and is in discussions with the company over the relocation proposal. Dong said talks with the union are continuing about exact details of the plan, but he said Xinhua’s report was inaccurate.
“What we’re trying to take into account is that some people would prefer to stay where they are,” he said.