FAYETTEVILLE — Wal-Mart executives are expected to make the case it is improving the way it does business overseas and outline new growth opportunities at the world's largest retailer's annual shareholder meeting Friday.
Wal-Mart faces increasing scrutiny from investors over how it has handled allegations of bribery in its Mexican operations that surfaced a year ago. It also faces pressure to increase its oversight of factory conditions abroad after a building collapse in April in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 garment workers. The discounter, based in Bentonville, is also under scrutiny for how it treats its workers.
Those problems are happening as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is wrestling with slower sales growth.
Wal-Mart's annual meeting, at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville's Bud Walton Arena, attracts thousands of investors and has historically had the air of a giant pep rally. The company brings in A-list speakers and performers like basketball legend Michael Jordan and pop singer Justin Timberlake.
Wal-Mart is considered an economic bellwether because it accounts for nearly 10 percent of nonautomotive retail spending in the U.S. The company's first-quarter results, reported last month, showed that its low-income shoppers remain under stress. While the housing market is recovering and the stock market has rallied, low-income people haven't benefited much. They're also facing new pressures such as higher payroll taxes that have affected spending.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.