Wal-Mart = Satan? Discuss!

Hot on the heels of bowing to the will of the All China Federation of Trade Unions and allowing union branches in its China stores (but not in its American counterparts), comes the announcement that Wal-Mart is buying a chain of one hundred “hypermarkets” in China from a Taiwanese company:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is bidding about $1 billion for a chain of 100 hypermarkets in China in a deal that could vault it ahead of competitors to become the country’s biggest food and department store network, reports said Tuesday…

…Foreign retailers are rushing to tap China’s fast-growing economy, large population and expanding middle class.

The Wal-Mart deal, if completed, would follow the Bentonville, Ark.-based company’s recent exit from both Germany and South Korea.

Such a deal would vault Wal-Mart past its rival, Carrefour SA of France, in the number of hypermarkets in China. A hypermarket combines a supermarket and a department store in a giant facility with a full line of groceries and general merchandise.

For background on why Wal-Mart might be a tool of the devil, read this Pulitzer Prize winning series in the LA Times, “the Wal-Mart Effect.” It’s stunning.

The Discussion: 9 Comments

the LA Times link appears to be broken.

October 18, 2006 @ 3:21 pm | Comment

Well, shortly after Ratzinger became Pope Benedict Wall-Mart declared that they will sell all their branches here in Germany. If you follow the thesis that the downfall of Satans previous incarnation -Communism- started in Poland, you might be on to something here, Richard.

October 18, 2006 @ 6:12 pm | Comment

sorry, Lisa, I mean.

October 18, 2006 @ 6:14 pm | Comment

Unfortunately, all of the satanical things WalMart has done – degrading its workers with starvation wages and niggardly benefits, browbeating its suppliers to offer their goods at starvation prices, driving the mom and pop competitors into oblivion and giving back next to nothing to the communities in which they operate – have made it the darling of those who are intoxicated with the globalization craze. It is almost a parody of how malignant globalization can be as it drives everything into the dirt in the name of shareholder value and cheaper prices. But what good are cheaper prices if WalMart leaves so many of us unemployed and without health fundamental benefits?

October 18, 2006 @ 10:45 pm | Comment

Kinda weird, but I hate Walmart’s doing in the states, but I love them in China? Not only because of the union thing, but also because they’re pretty good about randomly visiting suppliers and checking their standards, they even have a big poster they carry with them when they visit suppliers, pretty much saying “no bribery, no gifts, no backdoor”. I like that.

Walmart in America, however, is awful. They are vicious to suppliers, destroy communities, and harsh to their employees. The goofy thing is, their supposed “low prices, always” is pretty much subsidized because of all the medicare/other welfare programs their workers are forced to go on. By the way, food and grocery items actually tend to be cheaper at Smith’s and Albertsons.

October 18, 2006 @ 11:53 pm | Comment

Link fixed, thanks! I highly recommend this series – it was published a few years ago and was the first extensive coverage in a MS source I know of about Wal-Mart. Well-deserving of the Pulitzer. The first two articles in particular are must-reads.

October 19, 2006 @ 1:12 am | Comment

This just in:

For months, politicians and activists have been saying that the low prices at the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, come at a tremendous cost to its low-paid employees. They point to lawsuits that contend the company discriminates against women and forces low-paid employees to work through lunch breaks and after their shifts, without extra compensation. Wal-Mart has also been boosting its political contributions to stop initiatives aimed at forcing the retailer to raise pay and benefits.

Now, as Wal-Mart rolls out a new round of workplace restrictions, employees at a Wal-Mart Super Center in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., are taking matters into their own hands. On Oct. 16, workers on the morning shift walked out in protest against the new policies and rallied outside the store, shouting “We want justice” and criticizing the company’s recent policies as “inhuman.” Workers said the number of participants was about 200, or nearly all of the people on the shift….

Among them were moves to cut the hours of full-time employees from 40 hours a week to 32 hours, along with a corresponding cut in wages, and to compel workers to be available for shifts around the clock.

In addition, the shifts would be decided not by managers, but by a computer at company headquarters. Employees could find themselves working 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. one week and noon to 9 p.m. the next. “So workers cannot pick up their children after school everyday, and part-timers cannot keep another job because they can be called to work anytime,” says Vasquez.

October 19, 2006 @ 9:24 am | Comment

Wow, very interesting news. As the article mentioned, Trust Mart has stores scattered all over the place and gives Wal-Mart exactly what they now lack: instant presence across a broad swath of China. In Chengdu for example, Carrefour is king with, I believe, 5 well-located stores; Wal-Mart just opened their first last month. Trust Mart, the first foreign-owned retailer (interesting how that term “foreign” sneaks by even in local media when referring to a Taiwanese brand in China) to set up shop in Chengdu, has stores scattered all over the city. On the other hand, Trust Marts have a very Chinese vibe about them and it will be interesting to see how Wal-Mart goes about incorporating/steamrolling that dynamic. Also, many Trust Marts have a very neighborhood feel to them; far from the imposing cache that “hypermarket” carries and far from the behomoth image that Wal-Mart projects. Further, if a rebranding is in the cards, then there will be some overlap to deal with: in Kunming, there is a Trust Mart right across the street from Wal-Mart. I guess one store closing won’t mean anything to the boys from Bentonville, though.

Not being a Wal-Mart aficionado, to me their stores in China -like in the U.S.- have zero personality. Makes sense in Shenzhen, the city with the least personality in China, but in Nanjing for example, their store is just a crowded mess on two floors and succeeds only because of its uber-prime location. I’ll miss 好å?ˆå¤š if indeed their fate is to be assimilated by the Wal-Mart Borg.

October 20, 2006 @ 1:30 pm | Comment

I read another article today, I think in the LA Times, that talks about how mega-retailers like Wal-Mart and Carrefour (sp?) are focusing their efforts on expanding to “second-tier” cities, the interior and the West. Chengdu was one site mentioned. The article also said that unlike in America, Wal-Mart has to adjust its business strategy to deal with local tastes, and that doesn’t mean “Chinese” tastes, it means regional variations.

October 20, 2006 @ 3:20 pm | Comment

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