Why would Asda want to be like Walmart?


In the UK, Asda will be rolling out branding changes across its estate over the next two years in order to “boost connectivity with Walmart” as Chief Executive Andy Clarke put it yesterday.

“Brands have to go through change, we are about to invest £600m across our estate,” said Clarke. “This isn‘t about trying to bring in another type of customer or to change Asda, which is still very much a loved British brand, into Walmart. Quite simply, the timing just makes sense.”

Asda will invest £600m into creating new stores and improving existing ones under the new branding this year. Along with 17 new store openings, while 62 stores will be majorly revamped.

As these improvements were broadcast, US retail giant Wal-mart, which owns Asda, announced that some 500,000 of its workers are to receive a pay rise, in an attempt by Chief Exec Doug McMillon to reaffirm their importance to the company.

The multinational retailer will increase staff wages for almost half a million full and part-time staff through America, taking the hourly wage at least $1.75 above the country‘s minimum wage.

McMillon confirmed that entry level pay is being raised to $9 per hour come April, while current “associates” will earn at least $10 an hour.

Wal-Mart will also launch a programme that will see each member of staff receive six months of skills-based training. The starting salary for department manager roles is being increased to at least $13 an hour from this summer, rising to $15 an hour next year.

“There will be no better place in retail to learn, grow, and build a career than Walmart,” McMillon said in an open letter which described how valuable staff members are to the firm.

The rather heartwarming letter describes how important each member of staff is to the overall company:

After all, we‘re all associates. We have different roles at different times in our career and every one of them is important. Today‘s cashiers will be tomorrow‘s store or club managers. Today‘s managers are tomorrow‘s vice presidents. Tomorrow‘s CEO will almost definitely come from inside our company.

During our recent Walmart U.S. year beginning meeting, I asked all of those in the arena, more than 7,000 people, to stand if they started their Walmart career in an hourly role. It felt like almost everyone stood up. It was an emotional moment. It made the word opportunity real.

The changes announced today are part of a package of improvements the US business is planning, which will bring about “comprehensive changes to our hiring, training, compensation, and scheduling programs, as well as to our store structure”.

It doesn‘t stop there:

“As important as a starting wage is, what‘s even more important is opportunity, and we‘ll continue to provide that ladder that any of you can climb. If you work hard, develop new skills and care for others, there should be no limit to what you can do here. That‘s what makes this place special. I‘ve seen it. I‘ve lived it. And I want nothing more than for every Walmart associate today to feel that same connection to the company that I feel and to have the same opportunities I‘ve had.”

Back to you Asda.