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Walmart increases employee starting wage, expands parental leave

BY DSN STAFF

The nation’s largest private employer will increase the starting wage rate for its more than one million hourly associates in the United States to $11, and provide a one-time cash bonus for eligible associates ranging from $200 to up to $1,000. (Rival Target raised its minimum wage to $11 last fall.) The company said the changes partially motivated by anticipated savings from the new tax plan, which provides deep tax cuts to corporations.

The pay increase, which takes effect in the Feb. 17, 2018, pay cycle, is in addition to wage increases Walmart has already planned for many U.S. markets in the coming fiscal year.

The cash bonus will be provided to all eligible full and part-time hourly associates. The amount will be based on length of service. Associates with at least 20 years will qualify for $1,000.

This increase in wages will be approximately $300 million incremental to what was already included in next fiscal year’s plan. The one-time bonus represents an additional payment to associates of approximately $400 million in the current fiscal year, which ends Jan. 31, 2018. Walmart said a “discrete” one-time charge will be taken in the fourth quarter of the current year to account for the bonus.

Walmart is also expanding its parental and maternity leave policy, providing full-time hourly associates in the U.S. with 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. Salaried associates will also receive six weeks of paid parental leave.

The retailer will also provide financial assistance to associates adopting a child. The adoption benefit, available to both full-time hourly and salaried associates, will total $5,000 per child and may be used for expenses such as adoption agency fees, translation fees and legal or court costs.

“Today, we are building on investments we’ve been making in associates, in their wages and skills development,” said Doug McMillon, Walmart president and CEO. “We are early in the stages of assessing the opportunities tax reform creates for us to invest in our customers and associates and to further strengthen our business, all of which should benefit our shareholders. However, some guiding themes are clear and consistent with how we’ve been investing — lower prices for customers, better wages and training for associates and investments in the future of our company, including in technology. Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S.”

Walmart said it is early in the process of assessing potential additional investments.

“That assessment will be done not only through the lens of associates, customers and shareholders, but also within Walmart’s financial framework of strong, efficient growth, consistent operating discipline and strategic capital allocation,” the company stated.

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Sam’s Club’s Turner-Mitchael to retire

BY David Salazar

Sam’s Club senior vice president and GMM of consumable and health and wellness will be retiring at the end of the fiscal year, a Sam’s Club spokesperson confirmed Wednesday. Turner-Mitchael is a 26-year veteran of the company, having joined Walmart in 1992 as a pharmacist in Lubbock, Texas.

During her time at the company, Turner-Mitchael has led various teams at Walmart and Sam’s Club, including Walmart’s pharmacy operations team and Sam’s Club’s merchandising, operations and health and wellness divisions. She has received the Sam M. Walton Blue Coat Award of Excellence.

“Jill leaves a lasting legacy, both as a merchant and as a disruptor in the health care industry,” the company said. “Her passion in raising awareness of health and wellness issues and in testing exciting new concepts in clubs such as free screenings, health kiosks and caregiver support programs has helped the company to become a leader in affordable health care. Jill has also made a strong impact on associates throughout the company with her mentorship and focus on championing women’s advancement in the workplace.”

The company said it has not yet named Turner-Mitchael’s successor and will do so once it has been announced internally.

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Supervalu’s Q3 shows results of acquisitions on wholesale business

BY David Salazar

Grocery retailer and wholesaler Supervalu has shared the results from its fiscal 2018 third-quarter, which included a boon to its wholesale business in the form of its Unified Grocers acquisition, even as retail sales declined. The Minneapolis-based company’s total continuing operations saw net sales of $3.94 billion — up 31% from $3 billion in the same period last year.

Supervalu’s retail division netted $1.02 billion in sales, down 4.1% from last year’s $1.06 billion, which the company attributed to a 3.5% dip in same-store sales and store closings, offset by new and acquired store sales. The company’s retail operating loss was $6 million for the quarter, a number that included $3 million in costs related to store closures. Supervalu’s third-quarter operating loss was well below the loss it posted in the same period last year, when it reported $14 million.

The impact of retail losses on Supervalu’s bottom line was buoyed somewhat by its wholesale division’s performance. The wholesale business posted $2.89 billion in net sales, an increase of 52% over the prior period, which the company said was driven by the Unified Grocers acquisition, as well as new customer sales and increased sales to existing customers. Operating earnings were down slightly from last year, coming in at $48 million after being adjusted for $2 million of merger and integration costs. In the prior third quarter, Supervalu’s wholesale division brought in $52 million in operating earnings.

“With the influx of significant new business in certain distribution centers, we experienced a larger-than-anticipated increase in expenses, but we're encouraged by the work we are doing to address those costs and believe they are manageable going forward,” Supervalu president and CEO Mark Gross said. “We remain committed to investing in our wholesale business to drive future growth.”

On the corporate side, Supervalu saw fees earned of $33 billion from services agreements, and its new corporate operating loss was $1 million — which included $3 million of merger and integration cost. This is compared with net corporate operating earnings of $4 million last year.

With the Unified Grocers acquisition completed in Q3, the company set its sights on its Associated Grocers acquisition, closing it early in its fourth quarter.

“We're pleased to have completed our acquisition of AG Florida early in the fourth quarter,” Gross said. “The work done in the third quarter concluded with this deal which, combined with the acquisition of Unified Grocers earlier this fiscal year, demonstrates our commitment to the strategic growth of our Wholesale business. Furthermore, we're extremely pleased with the integration work at Unified and the progress made in that market.”

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