July, 2007

Wal-Mart Apparel Executive Resigns (WSJ)

In light of Wal-Mart announcing plans to enter the Manhattan Fashion industry, apparel executive resigns citing extreme difficulty to turn Wal-Marts fashion image around….Getting out before its too late, Claire Watts knew Wal-Marts fashion push was destined to fail.

Wal-Mart Apparel Executive Resigns

July 21, 2007; Page A3

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will base its women’s clothing executives in Manhattan to stay on top of fashion trends, following the resignation of a top apparel executive at its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters.

The departure of Claire Watts, executive vice president of apparel merchandising, underscores the difficulties the retailer faces in turning around the unit and reigniting its sales growth overall. Her resignation leaves the division at least temporarily in the hands of chief merchandising officer John Fleming and a newly promoted executive.

[Slippery Footing]

Wal-Mart hasn’t yet decided if it will recruit someone to replace Ms. Watts as executive vice president of apparel. It has named Dottie Mattison, formerly chief merchant at its Walmart.com unit, as senior vice president and general merchandising manager of women’s apparel. Ms. Mattison will handle Wal-Mart’s merchandising, design and product strategy for women’s apparel from its offices in Manhattan.

Read the entire article here

Wal-Mart to Lease Studio in Manhattan

In yet another attempt by Wal-Mart to try and reach a younger demographic, the company announced yesterday they will lease a new Fashion Studio in New York in order to “expand our design team”. We’ll see who is wearing Wal-Mart fashion soon enough at the Oscars or the Grammy’s.

Wal-Mart has agreed to a 12-year lease for the new studio, according to Alexander Chudnoff, executive director at Cushman & Wakefield, a real-estate broker for the deal. The agreement demonstrates a long-term commitment by Wal-Mart to attract more top-notch talent to pick and design its fashions. That effort has been hampered in part by the location of Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

Where are our Jobs going? CNN Money explains

Attention shoppers: No jobs here

Retail employment numbers keep coming up short, a sign of tighter cost control by retailers, and perhaps worse service.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — If you want to see where the jobs aren’t, go shopping.”

In an unrelated article, Errol Lewis explores the now what question…Now that Big Box Stores have been kept out Unions and politicians owe an answer to communities on where to buy quality products for an affordable price… Keeping Big Box stores are just part of the solution.

Wal-Mart’s labor pains

Groups are winning the fight to keep the big box
away, but now there’s bigger battle to aid poor

New York City’s labor movement is about to take a victory lap for persuading Wal-Mart, the retail giant, to give up its attempts to open a store in Manhattan.

An unexpected, exasperated statement by Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott to The New York Times this week – “I don’t care if we are ever here. … I don’t think it’s worth the effort” – appears to write the final chapter on years of searching in vain for a foothold.

Scott later said that the company still would like to set up shop somewhere in the outer boroughs. But that will be a tall order.

For years now, in every place the company looked for a home, labor unions, lobbyists and politicians have thrown up roadblocks, sometimes by passing zoning rules to exclude Wal-Mart’s trademark megastores.

Now the unions and politicians that worked so hard to keep Wal-Mart out of Gotham have a moral obligation to help low-income New Yorkers find another way to get low-cost goods.

The opposition to Wal-Mart by organized labor has been understandable, even commendable. The company is notorious for using union-busting tactics: In 2000, after a majority of butchers in a Jacksonville, Tex., Wal-Mart voted to unionize, the company simply stopped carrying fresh meat and fired all the butchers.

That hardknuckled approach goes hand in hand with offering lousy pay and skimpy benefits to employees. Many full-time Wal-Mart workers live near the poverty line and rely on government benefits or a spouse’s health benefits to get by.

So many women have complained about Wal-Mart’s job-assignment and promotion practices that more than 2 million women – current and former employees – have banded together in the largest sex-discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history.

But opposing Wal-Mart’s odious practices is only half the equation. The anti-Wal-Mart forces also need to face the fact that working families in our city, including union households, routinely pay significantly more for food, clothing and other necessities than do suburbanites who have access to Wal-Mart and other big-box stores.

It’s a serious problem. For decades, inner-city neighborhoods across America have watched supermarkets and retail stores vanish, leaving an impoverished captive audience with few choices of what to eat or wear.

Study after study has confirmed what inner-city residents already know all too well: It’s hard, and sometimes impossible, to find fresh, cheap produce in the ghetto. Some bodegas and small supermarkets carry organic and low-sodium foods, but not nearly enough.

Every serious discussion of the inner-city epidemic of chronic diseases like hypertension, obesity, diabetes and heart disease eventually bumps into the urgent need to make better and cheaper goods available.

Beyond the question of food isthe simple, vital matter of helping poor people save money. Afamily that pays less for everything from diapers and baby food to coats, shoes and dresses can easily end up saving $400 to $500 ayear – a significant amount for a household with $20,000 to $30,000 in income.

The unions and politicians who keep chasing Wal-Mart away should keep holding strategy meetings – this time, to work on ways to bring supermarkets, food co-ops, green markets and discount retailers to the city residents who need them most.


Wal-Mart goes back to basics….

Wal-Mart says goodbye to supporting GLBT organizations after pressure from conservative Christian groups…Read the entire article

NEW YORK (FORTUNE) — Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has decided to curb its support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) organizations after conservative Christian groups threatened a boycott, and after some of its own employees expressed disapproval. Read the entire article here

Last year in an attempt to fix their conservative image, Wal-Mart began its relationship with Gay and Lesbian groups. The relationship was always a fine line Wal-Mart walked, their loyal southern conservative customers were offended by their decision to do business with GLBT organizations, hundreds of protests occurred at Wal-Marts throughout the south. Petitions were signed (check out this site which says “SAVE WAL-MART FROM THE RADICAL HOMO AGENDA”) Here is yet another reason Wal-Mart will never be apart of New York City.