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The Dallas Morning News reports that Walmart is opening 200 academies around the country "with dedicated teaching staffs and students commuting from its nearby Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets ... The students are Wal-Mart’s department and assistant store managers who operate its 4,600 U.S. stores. The goal is for all of the academies to be open by the end of 2017 and for 140,000 employees to go through the program each year."

The story goes on to note that the effort is meant to address Walmart's persistently low customer service rankings, and "is part of Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon’s plan to improve customer service by paying people more and offering them better training. Wal-Mart said last year, it’s spending an additional $2.7 billion over two years on hourly raises, improved benefits and training."

Walmart said this week that it is laying off 100 headquarters employees, all from its "information systems department, part of the retailer’s recently created Walmart Technology group, which merged staff that works on the company’s website and store technology staff."

Walmart laid off 450 headquarters people last fall, and another 150 Sam's Club employees in January.
KC's View:
A window opens even as another closes.

Here's the deal. Walmart has to focus on the things that are customer-facing, and look for ways to improve the shopping experience in as many ways as possible. Because this costs money, they have to find efficiencies wherever it can.

For example, Fortune reports that Walmart, anxious to improve the laggard position that Sam's Club traditionally has occupied compared to Costco, "is making major changes to its business model, putting a much bigger focus on improving store food brands, opening new Sam’s Club locations in higher income zip codes, and giving regional buyers more say in what the retailer sells, particularly as it pertains to gourmet and natural foods."

Sam's Club CEO Rosalind Brewer describes the strategy as "absolutely a reset for our business." Which is what every retail business has to do, on an ongoing basis.