Wal-Mart Tries to Modify Corporate Culture
By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO, AP Business Writer, Sun Apr 16, 4:36 PM ET
After years of accusations that it caused the demise of thousands of smaller merchants, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is undertaking an unusual strategy: helping competing local establishments stay in business.
Wal-Mart recasting itself as a friendly neighbor? It’s the latest course change by the world’s largest merchant as it tries to modify its corporate culture—and the perception that it’s a ruthless competitor obsessed with maintaining its dominance of the retail industry.
Wal-Mart’s proposal to help rival small businesses, from bakeries to hardware stores, focuses on blighted urban markets where the retailer plans to open 50 stores within the next two years. The efforts will range from giving those businesses financial grants to producing free radio ads that will be broadcast on its stores’ radio network.
The image makeover extends to Wal-Mart’s selling floor as well. In recent months, for example, it has embraced organic products from baby clothes to fish caught in ecologically friendly ways.