WalMart Shuts Down Unionized Canadian Store

Fascinating. This book excerpt tells the story of a WalMart in Quebec that unionized, only to be shut down. Walmart claims the store was already underperforming, and adding 30 more people to fill union worker demands wouldn't make sense, so a shut down was the only option. Workers claim Walmart was just playing hardball to send a message. Some people think the union leaders new this would happen and used the union workers to generate negative press towards WalMart.

Regardless of the real reasons, this is why WalMart will ultimately slow down. Size brings tons of problems, like the fact that everyone wants to take a shot at you.

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  1. Director Mitch's Gravatar Comment by Director Mitch on February 10th, 2006 at 9:00 am

    It’s not size that brings pRoblems, it’s success.

    The U.S. is considered a politically risky place to do business since successful businesses are targeted by everyone from trial lawyers to government regulators, to “consumer advocates”.

  2. laurence haughton's Gravatar Comment by laurence haughton on February 10th, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    The biggest pRoblem size brings (and there are several I can list) is the “size” of the increases you have to deliver in real $. For Wal-Mart to grow 10% (and last year sales increased 11.41%) it has to find tens of billions in additional sales. That means selling lots more customers and/or lots more to each customer.

    What would we say to any group who found a way to sell $10-$20 billion more? I’d say, “Wow.” But for Wal-Mart that’s not even a 10% improvement.

    So when you consider the task put it in real $ not just in a percent.

  3. laurence haughton's Gravatar Comment by laurence haughton on February 10th, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    …and when you think about the massive size of the task Wal-Mart faces it would be leadership malpractice to try it dragging a bunch of dead weight (bad attitudes, (c)knucklehead rules, union bureaucracy, etc.).

  4. Bill Wells's Gravatar Comment by Bill Wells on February 10th, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    Walton, a radical retailer was working on continuous improvement before it was popular. Always looking at ways to economize in order to bring value to the customer, the rural folks.

  5. Scott M's Gravatar Comment by Scott M on February 10th, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    Maybe success bring pRoblems too, but size certainly plays a factor. The aformentioned pRoblem with growth is one example.

    Isn’t there a business model that recognizes the fact that companies can’t grow forever? Seriously, nothing is infinite. Every company has to slow down at some point.

    As far as the union is concerned, I hold nothing against Wal-Mart or the unions. There is nothing wrong with a company shutting down a store in order to avoid being unionized. It’s the companies that try to have it both ways, keeping the business going while excluding the union, that I have a pRoblem with.

    There are thousands of Wal-Mart stores. If the employees really wanted to be unionized, there would be a lot more stories like this.

  6. David G's Gravatar Comment by David G on February 10th, 2006 at 10:26 pm

    used to be there were 2 ways to get big returns – a) grow revenues efficiently b) reinvent yourself (innovate) …. while brilliant at (a), walmart’s learning that option b is no longer an option … shame on them for not using some of that cash to disrupt a few other value chains on behalf of the consumers they claim to advocate for …

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