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Wal-Mart chief says retailer needs to refocus on basic goods

October 25, 2006|From Bloomberg News

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., facing slowing sales, needs to concentrate on selling basic items after putting too much emphasis on higher-priced fashionable clothes, Chief Executive H. Lee Scott Jr. said Tuesday.

"We should never be out of balance at the top," Scott told analysts in New York and New Jersey. "That's not who we are. That's not where the money is going to be made."

Wal-Mart said Monday that October sales at stores open more than a year were up about 1%, below its forecast for a 2% to 4% gain.

Wal-Mart's sales have slowed going into the holiday season, the most profitable time for most retailers. Disappointing clothing sales and store remodeling had hurt results, the company said.

Scott said the October results were unacceptable. He predicted sales would increase as the Bentonville, Ark.-based company introduces holiday merchandise and as gasoline prices decline.

Scrutinizing customer research and tailoring goods to specific groups are crucial for boosting sales, Scott said.

Scott called the company's efforts to attract a broader range of shoppers mixed so far. Wal-Mart has been successful selling higher-end electronics, he said, with less progress in upscale offerings of clothing, home goods and fresh foods.

Shares of Wal-Mart rose 2 cents to $51.30.

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