Wal-Mart US managers in firing line over sales

City A.M. Reporter
WAL-MART Stores’ US management will be in the firing line at the company’s investor meeting this week, where Wall Street analysts will press for details on rescuing the retailer’s largest business.

Sales at US Wal-Mart stores open at least a year have fallen in five straight quarters, hurt by competition from lower-priced dollar stores and an economy that has allowed some shoppers to move up to rivals such as Target.

Bill Simon became chief executive of the US unit in June and is expected to outline how he and his management team can spur sales.

“It is really important for them to show that they can get traffic in the stores, because that’s going to be the key to that stock,” said Sarah Henry, equity analyst at MFC Global Investment Management.

Wal-Mart arguably shot itself in the foot as the US economy pulls out of recession, by cutting down on products in stores, then introducing “rollback” price cuts. Its shares are up about 1.9 per cent this year, well below the 13 per cent increase for the Standard & Poor’s Retail Index.