Wal-Mart Takes on the World

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 12:00 am  

Looking for Opportunity

McMillon told the group of analysts in October that Wal-Mart had a four-point plan for growth outside the United States.

In addition to implementing the “Everyday Low Prices” theme, Wal-Mart will grow through its online sales.

“We have a great opportunity to take [online sales] … and build business faster than those markets would’ve been able to build on their own,” McMillon said.

Other avenues of growth are through opening stores and acquisitions, he said.

McMillon didn’t say what markets he was considering for acquisitions.

“We’re not anxious to make anything happen, but we won’t miss an opportunity if the right one presents itself,” he said.

But the professors who have studied Wal-Mart wondered how much more Wal-Mart could grow. The U.S. and Europe account for about 66 percent of the sale of the consumer products, Prashad said.

If the rest of the world copied American demand for products, it would spell disaster for the environment, he said.

“We have to come to terms that we live in a country that has 5 percent of the world’s population and currently consumes 25 percent of the total energy in the world,” Prashad said. “So the model that we have enjoyed is not sustainable for the planet.”

Tilly also wonders how much Wal-Mart’s international division can grow, although he doesn’t see it slowing down anytime in the near future.

“But looking ahead 10-15 years, you start to run out of prosperous markets to move into,” he said. “There’s only so much retail that the world’s going to absorb.”



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