Walmart U.S. President and CEO Bill Simon Delivered Remarks at the 2014 Supplier Summit

Bill Simon, President & CEO, Walmart U.S.
Walmart 2014 Supplier Summit, Orlando, Fla.

Thursday, Mar 13, 2014

Today, Walmart U.S. president and CEO delivered the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the company’s 2014 Supplier Summit  in Orlando, FL at 2:00 pm EDT.

 
Good afternoon.

It's wonderful to see so many of you here in Orlando and to enjoy some warmer weather. I was certainly glad to leave my coat behind in Bentonville!

I want to start out by thanking you for being such great partners.

We love selling your brands and working with you every day to delight our customers. Your products are the heart and soul of what we do.

We need each other and we will continue to strengthen our relationship with you this year and beyond.

Keep bringing us your best ideas and innovative products. We want to sell them!

Because even in a year as challenging as last year, Walmart U.S. is a growth company – we opened 251 new stores and increased net sales by almost 2 percent.

And we want you to grow with us. 


Customer Access

We're excited about the year. We just had a good meeting with our store managers and we're excited about serving our customers.

They are the reason for our existence and we are committed more than ever to getting them the products they need, when they want them. 

We are focused on driving sales, running our stores better than ever and on winning at the intersection of digital and physical.

Our Supercenters will remain vital for the stock-up trip but our small format stores are doing really well.

They have Walmart prices with easy access; they are convenient and our customers love them.

So we're building more Neighborhood Markets and Walmart Express stores.

Our real estate strategy is centered on the broadest selection of products through a digitally connected, multi-format portfolio.

You may have heard about our grocery pickup program in Denver, which has been really well-received.

Joel Anderson with our e-commerce division will talk more about this a little later as well as other great options such as Site to Store, Ship from Store, and Pay With Cash. 

So we've got a lot of exciting things coming together around one customer, one brand.


U.S. Manufacturing

Part of customer access is local sourcing.

We've been successful with this in produce.

But this is also about general merchandise – there’s less lead time, allowing for quicker turnaround to meet customer demand and a much more efficient supply chain. This is true here in the U.S. and it is true abroad.  

As the middle class grows in emerging markets, local manufacturing will be increasingly the most cost- effective.

Many of you were here a year ago when we challenged you to think about making your products for the U.S. market right here in America.

We've pledged to spend $250 billion on U.S. products over the next 10 years. The Boston Consulting Group predicts that this commitment will create 1 million jobs.

Since last year I've been making the rounds talking to just about anyone who’ll listen about this opportunity to re-establish a manufacturing base in the U.S.

You may have seen our ads about this during the Olympics. If not, let's take a look.

I love that ad because it shows that when we work together we can change people’s lives! We can create jobs and revitalize communities.

We don't have to celebrate the past in U.S. Manufacturing; we can create new opportunity together now!


Progress

Last year we invited South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to this meeting to tell us what the governors were doing to bring manufacturing to their states. While she was here she met with Element TV.

Because of our commitment, her energy and their investment, Element moved into a facility in Winnsboro, SC. Today, I'm pleased to be able to show that assembly is underway. When at full capacity, they’ll employ 500 people in the Winnsboro region!

Here's another story: 1888 Mills out of Griffin, GA makes towels for us.

They were one of the first movers in this space, and just a year later, sales of the product are up 24 percent compared to the previous towels.

They are expanding and they just bought another huge facility in Griffin, 500,000 square feet, to grow their business.

Last March, also at this summit, American Home Manufacturing was inspired to explore making their   bedding here.

Today, I'm pleased to share that American Home Manufacturing is moving the production of their comforters to South Carolina. This facility will create 200 jobs!

We're finding the math works in other categories too – from shoes to socks to curtains, toys and light bulbs.

Some of you have joined us this past year as we’ve announced these commitments. It's been great and we hope that a lot more of you will consider what you can do to make products here.


Innovation Fund

We're also thinking of ways we can help you overcome barriers to U.S. production. You may have heard that in January, in conjunction with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Walmart Foundation, I announced a $10 million U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund.

It will provide grants to innovators in the manufacturing sector—that’s non-profits, universities, think tanks—in categories that are difficult to make here.

The innovation fund launches today and we look forward to awarding the first grant. Please help us spread the word about this opportunity!


Next Steps

So, where do we go next? One year into our commitment, we've begun to think of new ways we can source U.S. products.

We are taking big portions of our business out to bid to give our current suppliers, and possibly new ones, an opportunity to secure more business with us for longer—if the products are made here.

Here are ways to get involved:

1. You may have noticed that we have some new faces in the room today. They are American manufacturers and entrepreneurs who have products, ideas, and capital to revitalize U.S. manufacturing.

I hope you will meet with them while you are here and brainstorm new and innovative ways to work together to make your products here.

2. Today I'm also announcing something very different for us. To my knowledge, we've never done it before.

We are putting our patio furniture out for bid and we are looking for suppliers to make it here. We will launch the RFP next week.

Why patio furniture? There are long lead times and we have to make a commitment for the following year before any of the current year’s merchandise has sold. Making the furniture closer to point of sale will be better for our planning and better for our customers.

We're announcing patio furniture today—but it's just a start. We'll have more RFPs in the coming months.

3. And then on July 8, we'll be having an Open Call in Bentonville for suppliers manufacturing in the U.S.  and for suppliers ready to pitch new products or new categories.

Duncan and I will both be there with our merchants and we will make our teams available. We want to hear from you about what else we should be selling at Walmart that we make right here at home.

And don't forget that in August we'll be in Denver, and will be hosting another U.S. manufacturing supplier summit.

We'll have the state officials, component and raw material suppliers and other support there to assist you. We want to make that summit meaningful for you and we want to hear from you on what it will take to manufacture here.

If you have any questions please call Duncan or call me.

This is a once in a generation opportunity to do everything we can to get U.S. manufacturing institutionalized! This won't be easy and it will take all of us working together at every level. But if we do, we'll remember this as the time we came together to change this country! 

So we're excited about the year!

We feel really good about our strategy and digital and physical growth. With our current stores, logistics networks, and e-commerce business we feel like we are in a terrific position in the marketplace. 

And we look forward to growing with you.

Thank you.