The Wal-Mart story is unique in retailing. It is unique because for thirty years it was the vision and actions of one man which created a retail colossus that covered the length and breadth of America in a way nobody else had done before. Few individuals have exercised the influence that Sam Walton did in his business lifetime. His personal achievement was simply staggering, a stunning example of the classic ‘rags to riches’ American dream. From the smallest of small-town beginnings in Rogers, Arkansas, in the rural American mid-west, Walton rose to command the greatest personal fortune ever amassed in US history before Bill Gates. From an unprepossessing start as a store assistant in the J.C. Penney department stores, Walton drove his own business ahead with such persistence that today it is not just the biggest in America, but is ranked first in sales in worldwide business, ahead of such commercial giants as Exxon, IBM, General Motors, and General Electric. Walton was a true retailing phenomenon, an entrepreneur to delight the most demanding of critics, who took enormous pleasure in doing things his way, in swimming, as he liked to tell anyone who would listen, ‘against the current’. Once he had proved a principle to his satisfaction, he was consistent to the point of utter ruthlessness in sticking to the truth he had learned, and making sure that colleagues were equally aware and disciplined. He was in many ways a simple man, whose business approach, as we shall see, depended on the application of basic tenets which created success across an enormous swathe of retailing activity, and which have stood the test of time not just for thirty years in Sam’s own lifetime but since then for more than a decade after his death in 1992. There is no story quite like it.
KeywordsHedge Fund Store Format Parent Brand Competitive Intelligence American Dream
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.