FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a day after reporting a 2.3 percent rise in May same store sales amid worries about the impact of high gas prices, sounded a theme of the need for change on Friday at the company’s annual shareholders meeting here.
“[Founder] Sam Walton said you can’t just keep doing what works one time,” said H. Lee Scott Jr., president and chief executive officer. “Everything is changing…and we have to stay in front to succeed.”
Unveiling a new company slogan, “Wal-Mart Out in Front,” Scott said the world’s largest retailer would intensify programs for exclusive merchandise, such as the Metro 7 women’s line, and focus on the Hispanic, baby boomer and rural markets. The company, based in Bentonville, Ark., will ratchet up advertising and make it more contemporary with ads “in places I never thought we would have,” Scott said, without elaborating.
About 20,000 shareholders, store associates and executives from Wal-Mart’s domestic and international operations attended the extravaganza at the Bud Walton Arena of the University of Arkansas., which included performances by Beyonce and “American Idol” winner Taylor Hicks. as well as musical numbers featuring performers singing Broadway-style tunes such as “The Day That I Met Sam” and dancing with grocery carts.
Wal-Mart is seeking to broaden its appeal to compete with rival Target Stores, which reported a 5.7 percent rise in May same-store sales Wal-Mart,which has come under fire on issues ranging from employee wages and health benefits to its impact on the environment, is seeking to lure shoppers willing to spend on products such as expensive wine, plasma televisions and trendier fashions.