New York City -- Wal-Mart Stores on Friday kicked off its annual shareholders meeting by announcing a $15 billion stock buyback that will replace a previous $15 billion repurchase plan begun a year ago.
The meeting, attended by approximately 15,000 people, including Wal-Mart employees from around the globe, was held at the Bud Walton Arena on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark.
After nearly four hours of music, cheering, celebrity appearances (actor Will Smith served as master of ceremonies) and brief presentations by senior executives, Wal-Mart Stores president and CEO Mike Duke wrapped up the extravaganza by sharing five priorities associated with the global customer of the future, or the “next generation” customer.”
“Our next generation customer will include millions who are striving to join the emerging global middle class,” Duke said. “They’re from the countryside around Punjab, India and the blue collar suburbs of Sao Paulo, Brazil. They’re in the big cities, from the wards of Chicago to the boroughs of New York City. They’re connected to the world through smart phones and social media. They’re in charge of when they shop and how they shop. And believe me, they know who has the lowest prices.”
The company’s first priority is growth -- growth in sales, growth in the number of customers, and growth through new stores and acquisitions.
Duke said same-store sales growth in Walmart U.S. remains his and the U.S. team’s greatest priority. His words came as the company is trying to reverse a two-year sales slump at home,
The company’s second priority is its adherence to the philosophy of every day low prices and every day low costs.
“To deliver EDLP … we have to be an ELDC operator, “Duke said, “Over the past couple of years, you’ve done a great job quarter after quarter of leveraging expenses … But I know we can do more. No one controls costs better than Walmart because we do it for the right reason -- it’s