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History of Walmart: Timeline and About Us – Walmart Corporate

Walmart, in full Walmart, Inc., formerly Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., American operator of discount stores that was one of the world’s biggest retailers and among the world’s largest corporations. Company headquarters are in Bentonville, Arkansas.

History of Walmart

The founding of the first Walmart in Rogers, Ark. was an experiment at the time, with Sam Walton and his management team focusing on separation from the big existing retailers at the time, especially Sears  (SHLDQ) and Kmart.

By emphasizing store concepts that are widely associated with Walmart today, Walmart did stand out right away, especially in the following brand-building areas:

  • Customer focused advertising campaigns (particularly direct mail ads.)
  • A focus on pricing controls (mainly by purchasing and selling low cost imported goods).
  • Building warehouses that were close to its stores, and thereby easier and cheaper to distribute.

Success in all of the above areas came quickly, as the company began adding new stores outside of Arkansas and largely across the deep American South in the following years.

Within 20 years, the company had rolled out the first Walmart superstores (named Sam’s Club) and its first phase-in of Walmart Supercenters by 1983 and 1988, respectively.

By 1990, Walmart had become the largest retailer in the U.S., and began to branch out internationally, opening a new store in Mexico and subsequently opened more stores in the U.K., Germany, China, and Canada.

Walmart doubled its sales in 1995 three years after the death of founder Sam Walton. Company management had taken a risk in doing so, electing to borrow the funds needed to open more and more superstores. Debt piled up, but management’s bet had paid off, as Walmart earned the cash it needed to repay its financing loans.

By 1999, Walmart had grown so big it was not only the largest private employer in the U.S., but in the entire world and two years later, Walmart also surpassed Exxon-Mobile (XOM) – Get Report as the wealthiest company in the world. It’s a moniker the company couldn’t hang onto, as it now stands as the 29th company in the world, as digital-based giants like Amazon.com (AMZN) – Get Report , Alphabet (Google) (GOOGL) – Get Report , Microsoft (MSFT) – Get Report , and Apple (AAPL) – Get Report , along with a host of Chinese companies, have passed Walmart by.

Wal-Mart was founded by Sam Walton in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1962 and focused its early growth in rural areas, thereby avoiding direct competition with retailing giants such as Sears and Kmart. As it grew, the company developed new retail formats, including Sam’s Club discount warehouses (1983) and Wal-Mart Supercenters (1988). Within a decade of opening the combination grocery and merchandise Supercenters, Wal-Mart had become one of the largest grocers in the United States. An emphasis on customer attention (e.g., direct mail advertising), cost controls (e.g., low-cost imports), and efficiencies in its distribution networks (e.g., regional warehousing) helped Wal-Mart become the largest retailer in the United States in 1990.

It moved into international markets one year later with the opening of a store in Mexico, and growth continued, either through new stores or the acquisition of established retailers, in countries such as CanadaChinaGermany, and the United Kingdom. The company experienced a decline in sales immediately following Walton’s death in 1992 but rebounded with the introduction of the company’s house brand Great Value in 1993. In the years after Walton’s death, the company was less fiscally frugal, quickly accumulating corporate debt in order to finance such new strategies as a group of additional Wal-Mart Supercenters. The financial risk paid off: by 1995 Wal-Mart’s sales had doubled, by 1999 the company had become the world’s largest private employer, and by 2001 its total sales surpassed those of Exxon Mobil, ranking Wal-Mart as the largest corporation in the world.

Wal-Mart remained a global leader in the ensuing years, and in the 2010s it began to acquire numerous e-commerce businesses, including Jet.com (2016) and Moosejaw (2017). In 2018 the company changed its name to Walmart.

Its extreme growth did not occur without controversy. Walmart has been criticized for contributing to urban sprawl by forcing out of business local merchandisers, many of whom were unable to compete with the company’s economy of scale. Walmart has also been criticized for perpetuating low wages; its workers make significantly less than the average retail worker, in large part because of the company’s anti-union stance. Its merchandising practices are nonetheless emulated by other retailers.

Walmart Inc. (/ˈwɔːlmɑːrt/; formerly Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.) is an American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets (also called supercenters), discount department stores, and grocery stores from the United States, headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas. The company was founded by Sam Walton in nearby Rogers, Arkansas in 1962 and incorporated under Delaware General Corporation Law on October 31, 1969. It also owns and operates Sam’s Club retail warehouses. As of April 30, 2021, Walmart has 10,526 stores and clubs in 24 countries, operating under 48 different names. The company operates under the name Walmart in the United States and Canada, as Walmart de México y Centroamérica in Mexico and Central America, and as Flipkart Wholesale in India. It has wholly owned operations in ChileCanada, and South Africa. Since August 2018, Walmart holds only a minority stake in Walmart Brasil, which was renamed Grupo Big in August 2019, with 20 percent of the company’s shares, and private equity firm Advent International holding 80 percent ownership of the company.

Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue, with US$548.743 billion, according to the Fortune Global 500 list in 2020. It is also the largest private employer in the world with 2.2 million employees. It is a publicly traded family-owned business, as the company is controlled by the Walton family. Sam Walton’s heirs own over 50 percent of Walmart through both their holding company Walton Enterprises and their individual holdings.Walmart was the largest United States grocery retailer in 2019, and 65 percent of Walmart’s US$510.329 billion sales came from U.S. operations.

Walmart was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1972. By 1988, it was the most profitable retailer in the U.S.,[17] and it had become the largest in terms of revenue by October 1989. The company was originally geographically limited to the South and lower Midwest, but it had stores from coast to coast by the early 1990s. Sam’s Club opened in New Jersey in November 1989, and the first California outlet opened in Lancaster, in July 1990. A Walmart in York, Pennsylvania, opened in October 1990, the first main store in the Northeast.

Walmart’s investments outside the U.S. have seen mixed results. Its operations and subsidiaries in Canada, the United Kingdom, Central America, South America, and China are highly successful, but its ventures failed in Germany, Japan and South Korea.


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