A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about Wal-Mart in which I expressed disappointment with comments President and CEO of U.S. Stores Greg Foran made to analysts. At that time, he shared a top-line review; he seemed pleased with the performance of Express and Walmart Neighborhood stores and also endorsed the Superstores. Few specifics were provided as to his plans to set a new direction for the business other than state his intention to focus on food areas of the store, manage inventories carefully and improve the customer shopping environment.
Greg Foran, in his eighth month as the new president of the U.S. division of Wal-Mart, recently met with analysts to discuss his outlook for the company. The meeting, attended by more than 100 senior analysts, was a disappointment since it was mostly just a review of basic merchandising and procedures. There were few hard facts, and I think that Mr. Foran is in awe at running 4,500 stores — a fact he repeated several times. He didn't project the impression of a strong, confident manager. His theme was that he's proceeding slowly and cautiously to make changes.
Black Friday is exactly two weeks away and the holiday season is just around the corner, which is causing the competition between retailers to intensify. Now Wal-Mart executives are telling managers at its stores across the U.S. to price match Amazon.com and other online retailers. Greg Foran, president and CEO of Wal-Mart U.S., said that the price-matching plan simply formalized what many of the stores were already doing. "About half of the stores were doing it anyway," said Foran during an earnings call. The policy is known internally as "Online Price Match," which is part of the "Ad Match" program.
Empty shelves, grumpy customers, long lines at the register: These are just some of the challenges facing Wal-Mart's new U.S. chief. Greg Foran, who takes charge Aug. 9, inherits a chain wedded to an outdated big-box model, struggling to