Our year's rapidly coming to a close, and what a great year it's been for our Wal-Mart Company. It's difficult to realize that this year we'll achieve sales of $875,000,000 and almost $950,000,000 including leased departments. The best part too, is that it would appear now in mid-December that our inventories will be close to our budgets by year end, and that profits will be the best ever and could be well above plan, providing our markdowns aren't too heavy in January.
As this holiday season approaches, I reflect that we have so much to be thankful for. As a Company, collectively and individually, it's well that we all stop and count our many blessings. I realize full well that it hasn't been all that easy either to have achieved the outstanding record that is Wal-Mart's. "Our people make the difference" and never have I seen such dedication, tireless effort and teamwork throughout our Company as we've had this year. I wish it were possible to thank all of you personally for all you've done to make Wal-Mart the Number One retailer in America for the last several years at least. No one in retailing can approach our overall record for the past eight years in sales, rate of growth, return on capital, rate of profit growth, or by any other measure. By any criteria, Wal-Mart is undeniably Number One.
I would especially like to express my sincere appreciation to the families and spouses of our associates. Without their support and understanding during those tough times when things haven't gone well, we couldn't have done nearly so well. I am looking forward at least to seeing all our managers and assistant managers' wives and husbands at Tan Tara in Missouri for Annual Management Meeting in February. That will be another first for us — the way it'll be handled, and should be a very rewarding and challenging experience for us all.
I would especially like to recognize one particular Wal-Mart associate who came with us 12 years ago when we had five Wal-Mart stores and has served us as President and Chief Operating Officer during most of that period when we grew from 5-220 stores. His name is Mr. Ferold Arend who resigned from an active role as President this past summer. I know you all join me in expressing our sincere appreciation and thanks for the great job he's done for Wal-Mart. His capacity, dedication, integrity and intense loyalty to our programs has been an inspiration to us all. I know you know, and certainly I know, that Ferold Arend has played a major role in the development of our Company. So, Ferold, we're thankful you're still with us even in a limited role as Vice Chairman and Consultant, but none of us will ever forget all you've done for Wal-Mart. Our hats are off to you, your wife, Jane, and your wonderful family, for all they've done to support our Wal-Mart Company.
It's been said that Wal-Mart's real strength is its strong Middle Management Personnel and Store Managers, as well as the attitude of its people. I would agree, but also, I'd like to tip my hat to two other Top Management folks who have recently stepped into extremely responsible roles and have done outstanding jobs for us all. I'm referring to Mr. Jack Shewmaker, our recently elected President, and Mr. David Glass, Executive Vice President-Finance.
They are both outstanding men and retailers in their respective fields. In fact, in my book, no other company in retailing has the talent to match the abilities and capacity of Jack Shewmaker and David Glass. They have done one excellent job for Wal-Mart. Mr. Shewmaker is an eight year Wal-Mart veteran. Mr. Glass has been our Financial Officer for the last two years. I can't say enough for the leadership and examples they have provided for all of us. Today, we have more of a spirit of cooperation and teamwork throughout our Company than ever before. So once again to this team of Top Management Professionals who have contributed so much to all of us in Wal-Mart – Mr. Ferold Arend, Mr. Jack Shewmaker, Mr. David Glass – thanks from all 17,000 of us for jobs well done!
Again, I’ve made this article longer than I intended, but there always seems so much I like to discuss with you.
Let me close by again observing that as the Holidays approach, we all have so much to be thankful for, and I suppose this Wal-Mart World issue won't reach you until January. Even so, let us all be thankful for a great country to live in, a country that is at peace. Thankful for our health. Thankful for another record year of business for our Company, and the fact that with this year's profit sharing contribution of about $3,000,000, we'll have almost $12,000,000 by year-end in our great Wal-Mart Profit Sharing Trust that belongs to us all.
And especially am I thankful for our many loyal associates, our customers, suppliers, business associates and friends who have helped make 1978 such a great year for our Wal-Mart Company.
So from our family to your family—we express again our appreciation for all you've meant to us, and we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year, even though a slightly belated one. Good Luck in 1979.
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