Tuesday, June 21, 2005
On this day:

Wal-Mart is Taking China By Storm

This could spell "The End" for the Chi-Coms.

Joe Hatfield is the quintessential Wal-Mart guy--a chain-smoking good ole boy from Baltimore who started as an assistant store manager and toy buyer in the American heartland nearly 30 years ago under the tutelage of Sam Walton. Today he is the missionary from Bentonville, Ark., bringing the Wal-Mart way to China..."It's amazing. We're bringing people a great shopping experience!" Chinese customers, piling goods into their shopping carts, seem to agree. In a corner of the food department, Wal-Mart salespeople lead a group of giggling women shoppers in a rousing relay race, transporting small sausages down the aisle with chopsticks...

He runs 46 stores today but has much bigger plans. In two years, Wal-Mart will double that number and, in the next year alone, he will train some 25,000 new employees in the art of delivering those everyday low prices to China's growing middle class...The core of his message to Wal-Mart's associates (as all company employees are called) is simple: respect for the individual--customers in particular--"is what we're all about." Unlike in most Chinese companies, the system is transparent--guanxi, or personal connections, don't matter in the firm's Chinese stores. "The culture of Wal-Mart is stronger in China than anywhere else in the world," he says.