Walmart is hardly sitting back on its haunches after its latest spate of accomplishments. Instead, it's preparing for a new push of growth, CEO Doug McMillon said.
“The common thread in this story is that we’re positioning ourselves for sustained growth, while at the same time we’re finding new ways to serve customers today," McMillon said Friday as the retailer wrapped up its 48th annual shareholders meeting at its Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters.
McMillon is a seasoned retail executive and knows it is crucial to always concentrate on staying out front. Consider other retailers that were once at or towards the top: Sears, JC Penney, Kmart—now having failed or coming close to doing so because some, at least, got complacent.
McMillon indicated Walmart’s continued growth is planned around creating new capabilities to meet changing customer expectations “and equipping employees with tools and training to succeed in the evolving workplace.”
This is a store that has already done what no retailer has accomplished: amassed $500.3 billion in total revenue worldwide (in fiscal 2018), which is growth of more than $15 billion from the year before. The sales were largely raked up by 11,700 stores and 2.3 million employees.
At this past January’s National Retail Federation Big Show, where McMillon was honored as The Visionary at the NRF Foundation Gala, he told the story of the company’s awakening to the need for change.
“At some point, Walmart became big and societal expectations changed. And we missed the memo," he said at the Gala.
“The common thread in this story is that we’re positioning ourselves for sustained growth, while at the same time we’re finding new ways to serve customers today," McMillon added at the shareholders meeting.
Walmart’s most recent moves on the growth front are enhanced employee educational opportunities, investment in India’s Flipkart Group and, McMillon said, tech-powered last-mile grocery delivery.
“Meaningful change is rarely easy but it’s essential to set us up for success in the future," McMillon told shareholders.
McMillon’s comments are similar to those made by Walmart CEOs who have preceded him. In good times and bad, the retailer has always said it will continue to steer forward at a rapid clip.
Walmart CEOs have had mixed success at success though, and the company’s board has not been afraid to turn out those it felt were coming up short.
McMillon himself came to the CEO spot in 2014, after, like many of his predecessors, working his way up the company ranks. Like his predecessors, no matter how sophisticated Walmart gets, it always strives to keep its folksy feel—especially for its many, many middle America customers—by harkening back to “the values and culture” of founder Sam Walton.