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September 12, 2005

Another Wal*Mart Feel-Good Story

In this Wall Street Journal article, we learn more about how Wal*Mart’s finely tuned supply chain operations is being used for the greater good.

Ya know … action speaks louder than advertising. And this action by Wal*Mart is a far better image-builder than the mega-millions of feel-good brand image advertising the company has been trying to jam into our consciousness. Mucho kudos to Wal*Mart for being a good corporate citizen during the relief efforts.


from the Wall Street Journal (Monday | Sept 12, 2005):
The Federal Emergency Management Agency could learn some things from Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, when Katrina was reclassified to a storm from a tropical depression, Jason Jackson, the retailer's director of business continuity, started camping out in Wal-Mart's emergency command center. By Friday, when the hurricane touched down in Florida, he had been joined by 50 Wal-Mart managers and support personnel, ranging from trucking experts to loss-prevention specialists.

On Sunday, before the storm made landfall on the Gulf Coast, Mr. Jackson ordered Wal-Mart warehouses to deliver a variety of emergency supplies, from generators to dry ice to bottled water, to designated staging areas so that company stores would be able to reopen quickly if disaster struck.

Then, when the hurricane knocked out Wal-Mart's computerized system for automatically updating store inventory levels in the area, he fielded phone calls from stores about what they needed. He also alerted a replenishment team to reorder essential products, such as mops and bleach. And by Tuesday, scores of Wal-Mart trucks, some escorted by police, were setting out to deliver 40 generators and tons of dry ice to company stores across the Gulf that had lost power.

Katrina is the biggest natural disaster Wal-Mart has ever had to confront. Initially, 126 of its stores, including 12 in the New Orleans metropolitan area, and two distribution centers were shuttered because they were in Katrina's direct path. More than half ended up losing power, some were flooded and 89 have reported damage.

But by this past Friday, all but 15 of the idled stores had reopened. From Boutte, La., to Pass Christian, Miss., Wal-Mart frequently beat FEMA by days in getting trucks filled with emergency supplies to relief workers and citizens whose lives were upended by the storm.

Wal-Mart's speed in responding to Katrina underscores the extent to which it and other big-box retailers like Home Depot Inc. have become key players in responding to natural disasters. Whereas FEMA has to scramble for resources, Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart has it owns trucks, distribution centers and dozens of stores in most areas of the country. It also has a specific protocol for responding to disasters, and it can activate an emergency command center to coordinate an immediate response. [MORE]



UPDATE: Investor's Business Daily has a nice article on how/why Wal*Mart is helping during the Katrina aftermath.

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Comments

Well, even Gargamel played nice sometimes.

One wonders if WalMart is writing off all the goods they are sending south for another giant tax break...

Fortune Magazine has also gotten into the act with a story of WalMart using it's squeeze on the retail market for the greater good.

How nice to see walmart helped other people too. Well, I just like walmart because they are helping others and i love shopping at their walmart homepage. Thanks walmart.

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