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Wal-Mart drives int'l expansion

As retailing giant Wal-Mart reported 2003 fiscal year net sales of $244.5 billion, a 12 percent increase, it continued making strides in internal product development and global procurement, which it brought in-house last year.

"Global sourcing is about having the best merchandise and the newest things first," said John Menzer, evp, president and ceo, International division during the company's annual shareholders' meeting last week.

In key product categories, such as domestics, Wal-Mart's product development team is "driving significant improvement," said Lee Scott, president and ceo. Other changes include coordinating colors in housewares and domestics with those in the paint department, and pricing Egyptian cotton towels and bedding to be the same as last year's regular towels and bedding.

Looking five years out, Menzer said that international is expected to contribute a third of both sales and earnings for the company.

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