In this file:
· Meet the New C.D.C. Director: Walmart
· Walmart is opening Florida doctor’s offices as Walmart Health
· Walmart, Flipkart agree on purchase
· Wal Mart de Mexico B de C : Walmart de Mexico reports 10% jump in quarterly sales, but EBITDA dips
· PETA protesting local Walmart, wants the company to cut ties with Ohio company
· Walmart Sells Indian Stores to E-Commerce Startup – WSJ
Meet the New C.D.C. Director: Walmart
Why are big corporations requiring masks when many states still do not?
By Bill Saporito, Opinion, The New York Times
July 24, 2020
Mr. Saporito is a contributor to the editorial board.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opened branch offices in Bentonville, Ark., and Seattle this month. Not officially. But with the president trying to distance himself from responsibility for the coronavirus crisis, and Southern governors amplifying the damage with their flawed reopening strategies, the nation’s retailers have become the first line of defense against the pandemic.
From the headquarters of Walmart (which includes Sam’s Club) and Starbucks came the directive that all customers must wear masks. The conservative Southeasterner and liberal Northwesterner were followed by other national retailers, including Kohl’s, CVS, Walgreens, Publix and Target. Wearing a mask is a “simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in our facilities,” said Dacona Smith and Lance de la Rosa, the chief operating officers of Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club, on the corporate website.
So simple that you’d think even a president or a governor could do it, yet Mr. Trump could only muster a halfhearted tweet on Monday conceding that “many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask.” Many people not named Donald Trump. People with names like Robert Redfield, director of the C.D.C., who noted that mask wearing isn’t so much patriotic as prudent. “The data is clearly there, that masking works,” he said. Without the visible backing of the president, though, Dr. Redfield lacks the authority of, say, a guy who sells caramel brûlée lattes. Even after finally, grudgingly, coming around to the idea that masks work, Mr. Trump was spotted in public without one.
For Starbucks, that caffeinated brand of corporate progressivism founded by Howard Schultz, the face mask rule seems in keeping with the corporate culture. Mr. Schultz, moreso than Seattle’s other big retail boss, Jeff Bezos, has a social conscience. Starbucks offered health care to full-time and even part-time employees long before other big chains did. The company has also learned from its experience with the pandemic in China.
Walmart’s conscience is evolving. Last year its C.E.O., Doug McMillon, took a stand against the N.R.A. and gun violence in asking customers in open-carry states to stop openly bringing firearms into his stores, which have been the sites of several mass shootings. The Walmart founder Sam Walton was an avid bird hunter, and hunting and fishing are important departments in the stores. So you can still buy a shotgun at Walmart, but you have to wear a mask to do it.
The mask rule may create some tension in the deep-red burgs in Arkansas or Texas where Walmart can be the biggest game in town. But mandatory masks could turn out to be a competitive issue, too, as consumers seek safety. Winn-Dixie, a Southern supermarket chain, had resisted masks, but changed its mind this week. Putting customers at risk for political reasons is one thing; putting your business at risk is another.
Walmart, like other large corporations, is wading deeper into health care and health care policy. With more than a million employees, it probably buys more health care than many cities. For serious procedures such as heart surgery, for instance, the company has made deals with “Centers of Excellence” such as Cleveland Clinic where employees can get better outcomes at a lower cost over many local practitioners. Other companies have underwritten medical tourism to Mexico or Europe (pre-pandemic) for the same reason.
The company has also opened Walmart Health centers, which offer customers discount doctoring and dentistry, including $30 checkups and mental health counseling at $1 per minute. True to its operating philosophy, Walmart said it has cut the cost of basic health care delivery by some 40 percent compared with conventional practices.
Walmart is also moving directly into selling health insurance to the public. And why not? It sees a huge market opportunity in the fat profit margins and diffident service of the current players. And because we’ll all be dead before the Republican Party delivers the affordable health care insurance it has promised will replace Obamacare.
While such efforts by Walmart and other big payers help to restrain health care costs, the larger problem is that we’ve been abdicating health care policy to profit-seeking corporations. This isn’t a great idea, even if it’s well meaning in the beginning. There’s a long tradition of corporate medicine, from 19th- and 20th-century social welfare model companies such as H.J. Heinz and Hershey to Henry Ford’s later attempt to control every aspect his workers’ lives. In company towns, coal and steel companies supported clinics to repair the damage being done to employees in the mills and mines. It was only in the years after World War II that corporations formally assumed health care as part of collecting bargaining agreements, setting the pattern for the country.
Rather than use policy to help corporations get a better handle on Covid-19 safety, the Trump administration is instead focused on absolving them of liability...
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Walmart is opening Florida doctor’s offices as Walmart Health
Walmart Health will be a full-service health care hub at a time when retailers are increasingly diversifying their offerings.
By Sara DiNatale, Tampa Bay Times
Jul 23, 2020
Florida will be home to Walmart’s latest full-fledged health centers when the retailer begins opening doctor’s offices at its stores in Jacksonville next year.
Walmart announced this week it would launch Walmart Health in the Jacksonville market, which the chain says will offer low-cost and accessible health care.
“The combined crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic recession and subsequent loss of health insurance for millions of Americans have reinforced the vulnerabilities of our health care system,” Walmart president of health and wellness Sean Slovenski wrote on a company blog post. “We recognize we can make an impact by increasing access to quality, affordable and convenient health care as we invest millions of dollars and expand Walmart Health into Florida.”
Retailers have already been shifting into health care. CVS has 1,100 Minute Clinic walk-in offices across the country and is planning to add more health care hubs at its stores. Walgreens announced last month it made a deal with primary care provider VillageMD to open hundreds of doctors’ offices over the next five years.
Michael N. Abrams, co-founder of the health care consulting company Numerof & Associates, said retailers are drawn to health care not only as a way to diversify business but also because of consumer demand.
“You have a $3 trillion market, most of whose customers feel like what they get is over-priced and under-delivered,” Abrams said.
Walmart is especially well-positioned, Abrams said..
Walmart, Flipkart agree on purchase
U.S. retailer sells Indian operations
by Serenah McKay, Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Jul 24, 2020
Walmart Inc. has sold its operations in India to its e-commerce subsidiary Flipkart Group for an undisclosed amount, Walmart said in a news release Thursday.
The deal includes Walmart India's 28 Best Price Modern Wholesale stores and e-commerce business as well as its 5,200 employees, the Bentonville retailer said.
Flipkart Group will use the companies' combined resources in the debut next month of a digital marketplace called Flipkart Wholesale. The new venture aims to support India's 12 million or so neighborhood mom-and-pop stores, called kiranas, with broader access to technology and product selection. These services also will extend to India's micro-, small- and medium-size businesses.
Flipkart Wholesale will be headed by Flipkart Group veteran Adarsh Menon. Walmart India chief executive Sameer Aggarwal will stay with the company during the transition and then move to another role within Walmart, the retailer said.
Walmart paid $16 billion in 2018 for a 77% stake in Flipkart. That transaction remains Walmart's largest in its history.
Earlier this month, Walmart led a $1.2 billion financing round into the Bengaluru company, saying the funding would help the homegrown company expand its reach and fend off competition in India's vast and growing market.
The investment, made with a small group of current shareholders, raised Flipkart's value to $24.9 billion. "As the e-commerce pioneer in India, the Flipkart Group has transformed the shopping experience for millions of Indian consumers," said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Flipkart's chief executive officer. "With the launch of Flipkart Wholesale, we will now extend our capabilities across technology, logistics and finance to small businesses across the country."
Judith McKenna, Walmart International's president and chief executive, said the company has been committed for more than a decade to boosting India's prosperity "by serving kiranas and [other businesses], supporting smallholder farmers and building global sourcing and technology hubs throughout the country." The newly combined team "will break new ground in their shared mission to help Indian businesses grow and succeed," she said...
Wal Mart de Mexico B de C : Walmart de Mexico reports 10% jump in quarterly sales, but EBITDA dips
Walmart's Mexico unit reported a 10% jump in second quarter revenue compared with the year-earlier period on Thursday, helped by more grocery sales and online shopping amid stay-at-home measures meant to contain the coronavirus.
Still, Walmart de Mexico, the biggest retailer in Mexico, saw earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fall 3.3% from last year to 15.73 billion pesos, despite analyst forecasts EBITDA would increase.
The retailer also posted 1.66 billion pesos ($72.4 million) in quarterly net profit, a huge year-on-year drop due to a 8.1 billion peso payment to Mexico's tax authority (SAT) in May.
Chief Financial Officer Milton Brandt said the retailer had managed to contain other costs in its core Mexico market.
"Excluding the payment to the SAT, we were able to keep expense growth below total revenue growth, despite incurring higher operating costs given the measures taken to handle the pandemic," he said in a webcast discussing results.
If not for the Mexico tax and royalty payments in Central America, EBITDA would have risen 10% and net profit would have climbed 15%, the company said...
PETA protesting local Walmart, wants the company to cut ties with Ohio company
by: Darronté Matthews, WMBD WYZZ TV (IL)
Jul 23, 2020
PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) protested outside of a Peoria Walmart demanding the store terminate its relationship with an Ohio company.
Seven members of the animal rights group, including one clad in a chicken suit, held picket signs Thursday afternoon outside of the location on Allen Road.
Jonathan Horn, a PETA campaigner, said the organization recently discovered Trillium Farms Holdings abusing animals and killing animals. He said the company supplies Walmart with eggs and PETA wants Walmart to sever those ties.
“A recent PETA investigation into a massive filthy factory that supplies eggs to Walmart’s Great Value brand showed workers violently handling animals,” Horn said. “They were cramming them into tiny kill boxes and gassing them with carbon dioxide.”
Horn said PETA is also asking Walmart to choose vegan options instead of the bodies and eggs of chickens. He said if more people saw the footage of animal cruelty they would choose to consume more vegan products...
Walmart Sells Indian Stores to E-Commerce Startup -- WSJ
By Sarah Nassauer, Wall Street Journal
via MarketScreener - 07/24/2020
Walmart Inc. is selling its Indian stores to Flipkart, the e-commerce startup it controls, consolidating its operations in the world's second-most-populous country as it works to fend off Amazon.com Inc.
Walmart operates 28 warehouse-club-style stores in India that are only open to members. Branded as Best Price Modern Wholesale, the stores serve independent retailers and other small businesses. Indian regulations prohibit Walmart from operating supercenters or selling its own inventory directly to consumers through its websites.
Flipkart will buy Walmart India, adding the wholesale business and around 5,200 employees to its e-commerce and other operations, creating a Flipkart Wholesale business later this summer, Walmart said. A Walmart spokesman declined to share financial terms of the deal.
In 2018 Walmart bought a roughly 77% stake in Flipkart for $16 billion -- the U.S. giant's largest-ever acquisition. Last week Walmart said it led another investment round in the startup for $1.2 billion, raising Flipkart's valuation to $24.9 billion. Walmart's stake in Flipkart increased after the investment round, said a person familiar with the situation.
Amazon is also pushing aggressively to grow its business in India, investing billions of dollars to compete.
But both American behemoths have bumped up against regulatory hurdles in the country, as well as the challenge of navigating a fragmented retail space made up primarily of small, independent retailers.
Soon after Walmart sealed its investment in Flipkart, India altered its rules for online sales by foreign-owned retailers, forcing Amazon and Walmart to rewire their supply chains. The rules don't apply to local rivals.
Flipkart aims to use Walmart's wholesale business to work more closely with independent retailers in the country, offering more products and services such as financing, the company said. Walmart India CEO Sameer Aggarwal will remain during a transition period, then move to another role within Walmart, the company said...