business news in context, analysis with attitude

  • Wal-Mart has sued its former vice chairman, Thomas Coughlin, accusing him of financial fraud. The company is seeking to terminate Coughlin’s multimillion dollar retirement package.

    Coughlin left the company under a cloud, accused of gross misconduct, filing false expense accounts, and spending company funds on personal items. He has denied the charges, saying that he was spending the money on informants who were keeping him apprised of unionization movements.

    The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that the lawsuit “seeks reimbursement of the money Mr. Coughlin allegedly misappropriated from the company, plus about $6.5 million the company paid him in bonuses during the approximately seven years the fraud supposedly occurred.”

    Coughlin’s attorneys released a statement saying that the Wal-Mart suit "is another step in its relentless campaign to discredit a man who dedicated his life to the company and its employees for 27 years. Wal-Mart has used its unlimited resources to mount an attack on Mr. Coughlin while denying him any meaningful opportunity to defend himself."

    A federal grand jury is investigating Coughlin’s actions.

  • Wal-Mart has opened a new, 194,000-square foot store in China's biggest city, Shanghai, home to some 20 million people. The store is part of a joint venture between Wal-Mart and China's CITIC Group, and the latest step in Wal-Mart’s plan to double its China presence from the current 48 by the end of 2006.

    Shanghai already is a major magnet for western retailers, with both France’s Carrefour and Germany’s Metro well established there.

    Indeed, there are press reports this morning that Carrefour is considering making a bid to acquire Nextmart, a seven-store Shanghai-based chain.

  • A new study by Retail Forward says that Wal-Mart is the “stickiest” retailer in the US – meaning that it outperforms all other retailers in its ability to retain its shopper base by attracting long-term customers back on a short-term basis.

KC's View:
One wonders if at some point there will be a new study saying that Coughlin was the retail executive with the stickiest fingers?