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• According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has bolstered the number of loss-prevention workers in its stores and enlisted forensic accountants to help it determine the causes of its increases in theft and lost merchandise.” However, figuring out exactly what is causing Wal-Mart’s shrink problem – which is having a deleterious effect on its gross margins – and how to solve it is “taking a little longer than we expected," according to the company’s CFO, Tom Schoewe. "So, my guess is by the end of the third quarter we'll have better visibility."

• Wal-Mart has released its 2006 Ethical Sourcing report, which says that, in 2006, “Wal-Mart conducted more factory audits than any other company in the world, at 8,873 factories producing goods for Wal-Mart, 15 percent more than in 2005. Unannounced audits made up 26 percent of the audits undertaken, a six percent increase over 2005. High risk violations of the Wal-Mart Standards for Suppliers code decreased 23.5 percent in 2006, mainly due to educational outreach.”

• The New York Times reports this morning that, the union-backed advocacy group that has targeted the world’s biggest retailer for its wage, benefits and labor practices, has hired a group of Democratic consultants as its new leadership.

Meghan Scott, who worked on John Edwards’ 2004 presidential campaign, is expected to become the group’s deputy campaign manager with day-to-day control of the organization. She reportedly will be advised by a trio of consultants - Nick Baldick, Jeremy Van Ess and Richie Ross – that has worked on both national and statewide races on behalf of Democratic candidates.
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