|Walmart, Costco and Kroger are selling Brazilian beef products imported by JBS SA, the world’s largest meat company, which is linked to massive and ongoing deforestation. The three food giants talked the talk; but action speaks louder than words. They are enabling family-owned JBS SA, which has made its money through dirty meat and deforestation.|
WalMart is an American multinational distribution group that operates supermarkets, hypermarkets, discount department stores, and eCommerce websites. The group has 11,300+ stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, plus its eCommerce websites.ref
The business is majority-owned by the Walton family, with founder Sam Walton's heirs owning over 50% of Walmart through their holding company Walton Enterprises LLC, and through their individual holdings.
Sales are reported in two segments:
- 65%: USA and Puerto Rico: operating under the Walmart, Walmart Neighborhood Market, and Sam's Club (a membership-only warehouse club) brands, as well as eCommerce brands such as walmart.com and jet.com. Walmart USA does business in 3 strategic merchandise units: Grocery, Health & Wellness, General merchandise. Walmart U.S. also offers fuel and financial services.
- 24%: International: 26 countries. Walmart International operates through wholly-owned subsidiaries in: the UK (Asda), Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, India, Japan (Seiyu Group) and majority-owned subsidiaries in Africa, India (Best Price), Central America and Mexico (Walmart de México y Centroamérica). 3 major categories: Retail, Wholesale and Other, as well as eCommerce through walmart.com.mx, asda.com, walmart.ca, and flipkart.com.
Climate Policy Rating: InfluenceMap C+
Walmart is lobbying US climate change policy with some positive engagement. However, Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon is on the board of directors of the Business Roundtable - but is also a member of Advanced Energy Economy.
Worker Exploitation: Walmart has actively lobbied against increasing wages, against unions, and donated huge sums to Republicans who supported changes to public employee pensions and prison sentences, and increasing tax cuts for the wealthy.ref The Waltons are the richest family in the USA, worth $130bn, but refuse paid sick leave to ~347,000 workers.
Inequality in Supply Chains
Tax Policy: Walmart maintains six entities in the Netherlands through which it funnels funds - where it does not operate, because it cannot comply with Dutch employment and other legislation and still make a profit; neither can it use its brand power to put pressure on the supplier or distribution partners.
Govt Subsidies: a report from the non-partisan, progressive group Americans for Tax Fairness estimates that Walmart and the Walton family collectively profit from ~$7.8bn per year in federal subsidies and tax breaks. The $7.8bn included ~$6.2bn in taxpayer-funded public assistance for low-wage Walmart employees, with programs like food stamps, subsidised housing, and Medicaid. It also includes ~$70m per year in “economic development subsidies” from state and legal govts eager to host Walmart in their cities.ref,ref
Walmart Family Foundation
- ~50.33%: Walton family ownership:
- ~48%: Walton Enterprises LLC: the Walton family's private office and investment vehicle, shared equally by the 3 siblings and the estate of their brother John Walton.
- ~2.5%: Walton Family Holdings Trust: the 3 children share equal interests. The Trust was created so that Walton Enterprises LLC does not exceed a 50% ownership threshold.
- Each of the Walton children also directly own Walmart stock: Jim C Walton (runs family-controlled Arvest Bank), Alice Walton, John T Walton Estate Trust, Samuel Robson.
- 35.3% Walton Enterprises LLC
- 14.8% Walton Family
- 4.63% Vanguard Group Inc
- 2.68% Capital Research & Management Company
- 2.47% SSgA Funds Management Inc
- 1.24% BlackRock Fund Advisors
- 0.96% Putnam Investments LLC
- 0.75% Geode Capital Management LLC
- 0.75% Fidelity Management & Research Company
- 0.58% Northern Trust Investments Inc
- Oct.2020: Asda was sold to private equity firm TDR Capital Ltd and Mohsin and Zuber Issa, two billionaire brothers from Blackburn. Walmart retained a minority stake, with an ongoing commercial relationship and a seat on the board. The Issa brothers and TDR Capital are already chums, with TDR Capital owning a ~50% stake in EG Group Ltd. The deal is subject to approval from the Competition & Markets Authority, with a verdict expected in mid-February.
- 2019: Aspectiva, a product review startup based in Tel Aviv, was acquired.ref
- 2019: Art.com, an online art and wall décor retailer founded in 1998, was acquired.ref
- Oct.2018: Bare Necessities, a well-established online lingerie company that had been in operation for 20 years, was acquired from its founders.ref,ref
- Oc.2018: ELOQUII: Walmart announced plans to acquire the women’s plus size online fashion brand.ref Walmart is competing with Amazon by differentiating and offering e-commerce sites that sell items not sold on Amazon.ref Website
- 2019: Acquired a majority stake of 81% in Flipkart Private Ltd, an India-based eCommerce marketplace, includeing eCommerce platforms Flipkart, Myntra and Jabong.
- Dec.2018: Walmart Inc: Walmart changed its name, and filed new incorporation papers in Delaware.ref
- Dec.2018: Divestiture of banking operations in Walmart Chile in December 2018.
- Aug.2018: Divestiture of 80% of Walmart Brazil to American private equity firm Advent International.
- Aug.2018: Flipkart: acquired a 77% controlling stake in India’s largest online e-commerce retailer from its founders.ref
- Feb.2018: Walmart Inc: Wal-Mart Stores Inc changed its name, to reflects its shift towards eCommerce, as well as in-store.ref
- Jun.2017: Bonobos, a menswear online retail apparel brand, was acquired from its founders.ref
- Apr.2017: Sold Suburbia, an apparel retail division, in Mexico.
- Mar.2017: ModCloth, an online vintage-inspired retailer of women’s fashion and accessories, was acquired by Jet.com.ref,ref Website
- Feb.2017: Moosejaw, a Michigan based outdoor retailer that has 10 bricks-and-mortar stores and a large online presence, was acquired. The acquisition gave Walmart access to brands including Patagonia and The North Face.
- Sept.2016: Jet.com, an online retailer selling fashion, groceries, household, home, and beauty products, was acquired in a merger transaction, with Jet.com becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walmart, and gaining the brand's smartcart technology. Founded in 2014, Jet.com is one of the fastest-growing USA e-commerce companies. Walmart acquired Jet.com in an attempt to compete with Amazon.com for a larger share in the e-commerce market;ref the acquisition also enabled Walmart to sidestep its "cheap and cheerful" image by selling premium brands on the website.ref Website
- Hayneedle was acquired as part of the acquisition of Jet.com. Hayneedle is an Omaha-based online furniture retailer, and Walmart hoped that by acquiring this company it would strengthen their position in their bid to take on online giant Amazon. Website
- Jan.2016: Shoes.com, formerly known as Shoebuy.com, was acquired by Jet.com from Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp IAC. The company was founded in 1999, and then acquired by IAC in 2006. Jet.com immediately rebranded the site as Shoes.com.ref (**check completion date**)
- June 2016: Sold certain assets relating to Yihaodian, the eCommerce operations in China, including the Yihaodian brand, website and application, to JD in exchange for Class A ordinary shares of JD, representing ~5% of JD's outstanding ordinary shares. Subsequently, during 2017, the company purchased additional JD shares, representing an incremental ownership percentage of ~5% percent, for an ownership of ~10% of JD's outstanding ordinary shares.
- Apr.2015: The Walton family announced that Walton Enterprises LLC would would distribute about 6% of its holdings to a newly created Walton Family Holdings Trust. The distribution of shares to a charitable trust didn't undermine the family's control, but did offer major tax incentives.ref
- 2015: The direct heirs of Wal-Mart founders Sam and Helen Walton made a pledge to shareholders to keep the family’s ownership of Wal-Mart Stores at roughly 50%. In keeping with that mission the family routinely pares down its holdings.ref
- Feb.2012: Vudu Inc: Walmart revealed plans to acquire Vudu, a media technology company that specializes in content delivery and internet distribution of films to television networks in Canada and the USA. The purchase allowed Walmart to expand its digital content offerings via a movie streaming and download service.ref
- 2011: Massmart Holdings Ltd: acquired a 51% controlling stake in the South African company, the 2nd-largest distributor of goods in Africa. Massmart, founded in 1990, owns many local brands, including CBW, Builder’s Warehouse, Makro, and Game.ref,ref
- Feb.2010: Vudu Inc: Walmart confirmed it was acquiring the video streaming company.
- 2009: Lider: a grocery store chain with 91 Lider Hipers and 96 Lider Express stores, also selling groceries, toys, appliances, electronics, and home products. Walmart acquired 58.3% of the stock from Distribucion Servicio, with the Ibanez Scott brothers retaining the rest. The group became part of Walmart Chile.ref
- Jun.2008: Rebrand: Walmart unveiled a new company logo, featuring the non-hyphenated name "Walmart" and, in place of the star, a symbol that resembles a sunburst or flower.
- 2009: International Produce Ltd was acquired by Asda Stores Ltd. Formed in 2004 by joint shareholders Bakkavor and Teresa Hermanos, International Produce is the 2nd-largest privately-owned food processing business in the UK. In 2013, the firm's name was changed to International Procurement & Logistics Ltd.
- 2008: Seiyu Group: Walmart acquired a 6.1% stake in 2002; and a majority interest in 2005. Walmart continued to increase its ownership to 100%, delisting the company in 2008.ref
Seiyu is a Japanese group of supermarkets, shopping centres and department stores, and is one of the largest supermarket chains in Japan, established in 1963. "Seiyu Group" refers to an association of companies, of which "The Seiyu Ltd" is the parent.ref,ref
- 2006: Best Price Modern Wholesale: Walmart entered into a joint venture with Indian company Bharti Enterprises. Due to govt restrictions, Walmart was unable to enter the retail sector directly; Bharti therefore operated their retail outlets and Walmart operated 20 stores under the name "Best Price Modern Wholesale", following Indian govt approval. Bharti and Walmart went their separate ways in Oct.2013, but Walmart continued to operates their 20 Best Price Modern Retail stores in India.ref
- Sept.2005: Central American Retail Holding Company: Currently, Walmart owns 51% of CARHCO, which operates in Central America. The company operates 811 stores across Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica.ref
- 2004: Amigo: Supermarcados Amigo is a chain of supermarkets in the USA, founded in 1966. Walmart took over the company and closed any of the stores that were near to a Walmart of a Sam’s Club.ref
- 2000: walmart.com and samsclub.com were registered.
- Jun.1999: ASDA: Asda Stores Ltd was acquired.ref,
- 1998: Walmart Neighborhood Market: the first store was opened.
- 1994: Walmart Canada: a single discount store was established through the acquisition of the Woolco chain.ref
- 1992: Sam Walton died at the age of 74, leaving ~50% of the company's equity to his wife and 4 children.
- 1991: Walmart entered a joint venture with the publicly-traded Cifra to open Walmart branded stores in Mexico. In 1997, Walmart acquired a majority stake in Cifra, with the remainder of the company's shares remaining on the Mexican Stock Exchange. At the end of 2015, Walmart Inc reported a controlling 70% stake in Walmart de México y Centroamérica.ref
- 1990: Bud's Discount City: Walmart opened its first location in Bentonville. Bud's operated as a closeout store. Many locations were opened to fulfill leases in shopping centers as Walmart stores left and moved into newly built Super centers. All of the Bud's Discount City stores closed or converted into Walmart Discount Stores by 1997.
- 1988: Walmart Supercenter: the first supercenter was opened in Washington, Missouri. Walmart Supercenters are hypermarkets that includes everything a Walmart discount store does, and also include a full-service supermarket. Many also have a garden center, pet shop, pharmacy, Tire And Lube Express, optical center, one hour photo processing lab, portrait studio, and numerous alcove shops, such as cellular phone stores, hair and nail salons, video rental stores, local bank branches, and fast food outlets.
- 1987: Hypermart USA opened in Garland, Texas. All of the Hypermart USA stores were later closed or converted into Super centers.
- 1983: Sam's Club: the first store was opened in Midwest City, Oklahoma under the name Sam's Wholesale Club. They are warehouses that allow small business owners to buy their goods in bulk to save money. Businesses must register to become a member, enabling the purchase of goods in bulk. However, non-members can make purchases either by buying a one-day membership or paying a surcharge based on the price of the purchase.
- 1980s: China Imports: Walmart increasingly focused on non-branded Chinese imports, selling them under its own private label, and competing directly with USA manufacturers. The practice encouraged US brand distributors to have their products made by Wal-Mart's anointed partners in China.ref
- Oct.1969: Wal-Mart Stores Inc: Walmart was incorporated as "Wal-Mart, Inc" in Oct.1969, and changed its name to "Wal-Mart Stores, Inc" in 1970.
- Jul.1962: Wal-Mart Discount City, a discount store, was opened in Rogers, Arkansas.
- 1952: Cifra was established in Mexico.ref
- 1946: Sam's brother James L Walton opened a similar store in Versailles, Missouri.
- 1945: Walton's Five and Dime: Sam M Walton met the Butler Brothers, a regional retailer that owned a chain of variety stores called "Ben Franklin". The brothers offered Walton the franchise of a store in Newport, Arkansas. When the lease on the Newport store came up for renewal, Walton could not come to an agreement, nor find a new location in Newport. Instead, he opened a new Ben Franklin franchise in Bentonville, Arkansas, but called it Walton's Five and Dime.
- Jun.1940: Sam Walton, a businessman from Arkansas, began his retail career when he started work at a Penney's store (later renamed JC Penney) in Monks, Iowa where he remained for 18 months.
- Walmart among US retail giants selling beef linked to Amazon destruction. Andrew Wasley, Alexandra Heal, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Feb.13.2021.
- JBS: The Brazilian butchers who took over the world. Andrew Wasley, Alexandra Heal, Lucy Michaels, Dom Phillips, André Campos, Diego Junqueira, Claire Smyth, Rory Winters, The Bureau of Investigative Journalsim, Jul.02.2019.
- The A-List of Climate Policy Engagement. Which global companies lead in strategic lobbying for the ambitions of Paris? Rankings measure how a corporation or trade association behaves towards 2°C aligned climate and energy policy. Influence Map, Apr.2018.
- Billionaires Live Large While Denying Paid Sick Leave to Millions of Workers. Munira Lokhandwala, Derek Seidman, Little Sis: Eyes on the Ties, Mar.25.2020.
- Ripe for Change. Oxfam launches a new campaign to expose the root causes behind human suffering in food supply chains, and to mobilize the power of people around the world to help end it, starting with a focus on the role of supermarkets. The Supermarkets Scorecard is on page 24. Robin Willoughby, Tim Gore, Oxfam International, Jun.21.2018.
- About IPL: Who we are & what we do. IPL. Accessed Apr.28.2018.
- Our History: Timeline. ASDA, Apr.28.2018.