Message from Our President
A Matter of Pride
In a recent trade publication, our Wal-Mart stores headed the list of mass retailers in several very significant areas for 1973. Probably the one considered most important by most retailers and financial institutions is what we all work hardest to attain – return on invested capital. Wal-Mart heads the list with 24.88 percent.
Others were ranked as follows: Kuhns, 21.20; Hecks, 17.79; Pamida, 17.34; S.S. Kresge (K-Mart), 17.31; Fed-Mart, 16.70; Winn’s, 16.47; J.C. Penney, 16.10; Sears, 14.90; Dollar General, 14.57.
We were ranked first also in two other very important categories – largest percentage sales increase over the past seven years, from 12,620,000 in 1967, to 167,590,000 in 1973, over a 50 per cent compounded growth rate for that period. And more importantly, we’ve also led this very distinguished group of stores in the compounded growth rate of net profit over the past seven year period, which was also over a 50 percent rate of increase.
Quite a record of achievement for our Company for this seven year period, and I know all of you share my pride in having been a part of this exceptionally fine Company during all or part of those years.
Now what we’ve accomplished to date is great, and it will stand as some kind of a record for others to shoot at for years; but I’m very concerned about the balance of 1974. Let me share some thoughts with you on what’s ahead of us for the last seven months of this year.
To date, through the first five months, we’ve opened seven new Wal-Marts totaling 258,800 sq. ft. as follows: Mountain Grove, Missouri; West Joplin, Missouri; Perryville, Missouri; Grove, Oklahoma; Brinkley, Arkansas; Benton, Arkansas; and Camdenton, Missouri. Incidentally, they have all been exceptionally good stores, with sales and profits at projected budgets or above. Also we’ve expanded our very fine Eldon, Missouri store from 30,000 sq. ft. to 45,000 sq. ft. in this period, besides opening the two new Sav-Co stores in Mountain Home and Rogers.
The problem is that we’re behind schedule with our store opening program for 1974, and it appears that we’ll all have to carry an exceptionally heavy load for the balance of this year in order to open successfully the seventeen additional stores that are scheduled for the next five months. The total new stores will be about 735,000 sq. ft. or about three times as many stores and space as we’ve opened in the first five months. We’ve faced some challenges in the past, but to me, this is undoubtedly as tough a goal as any we’ve ever attempted. And we must do it well, and I’m confident this Company and our Wal-Mart personnel can, and will, rise to this particular challenge successfully as they have so many times in the past.
We’ve got a great year going so far, with what looks like another good sales and profit month for June just ended. Almost half of our inventories have been completed in these first six months, and for the most part, the trend is satisfactory. So our goals are twofold and so important to us all – No. 1 – maintain or improve our sales and profits trend in our old stores. No. 2 – get these seventeen new stores open on time and right. I don’t think I need to spell out to you who and where the sacrifices will have to be made. To open seventeen stores in five months with an eighty-five store base will require a sizeable commitment from every one of our over 5,000 associates in Wal-Mart. Not just Joe White, Jim Bewley, Bill Mitchell and their store opening department, or from our excellent group of assistant managers and management trainees and their families. Certainly our Real Estate and Construction Department will be hard pressed to achieve this schedule, as well as every division in our Company. We’ll be opening new stores at the rate of almost one a week for the next five months.
So the story will be told within the year; and by January 1, 1975, we’ll know for certain how well or how poorly we met the challenge. I’m betting we can do it.
“How does Wal-Mart do it?” they ask. The answer is always the same – people. Not only the right kind, but interested, dedicated, enthusiastic, and loyal people. That’s what makes our Company exceptional, and what enables us to continually achieve the seemingly impossible.