Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Inc. Corporation, participates in a Business Roundtable discussion on the”Future of Work in an Era of Automation and Artificial Intelligence”, during a CEO Innovation Summit, on December 6, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson | Getty Images
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Thousands of Walmart employees gathered at a huge arena on Friday, dancing as the Jonas Brothers headlined the return of the annual event that acts as a company pep rally. Yet despite the festive backdrop, CEO Doug McMillon acknowledged the new challenge facing the company: inflation.
Between loud cheers and acts by celebrities, McMillon praised how employees across the world persisted during the pandemic while coping with thin staffs due to Covid. He noted that sales rose even as stores struggled to keep shelves stocked. And he vowed the company would avoid repeating the disappointing first quarter results, when inflation ate into profits.
“We’re working to fix that and improve our performance as we go through the year,” he said, adding that Walmart’s workforce is “resilient and we love the challenge of retail.”
Later in the day, McMillon also stressed to analysts that the company is scrutinizing its expenses and pushing suppliers to trim back and absorb some costs. And he noted Walmart is tapping the expertise of its leaders who operate in Brazil and other countries with a history of sharp inflation.
“We have been working really hard on costs top to bottom, taking action to get our costs down so that the second quarter looks better than the last quarter, and we’re on our way,” he said at an investor event near the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.
His comments came just weeks after Walmart’s stock had its worst day in 35 years. In mid-May, the company reported a quarterly profit that fell short of Wall Street expectations as higher costs of fuel and freight hurt earnings. Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs also noted at the time that sky-high…
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