The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Business

January 25, 2010

Wal-Mart cuts about 11,200 Sam’s Club staffers

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will cut about 11,200 jobs at Sam’s Club warehouses as it turns over the task of in-store product demonstrations to an outside marketing company.

The move is an effort to improve sales at Sam’s Club and comes on top of a decision to close 10 underperforming warehouse locations, which cost 1,500 jobs.

The cuts represent about 10 percent of the warehouse club operator’s 110,000 staffers across its 600 stores. That includes 10,000 workers, mostly part-timers, who offer food samples and showcase products to customers. The company also eliminated 1,200 workers who recruit new members.

Employees were told the news at mandatory meetings on Sunday morning.

“In the club channel, demo sampling events are a very important part of the experience,” said Sam’s Club CEO Brian Cornell in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “Shopper Events specializes in this area and they can take our sampling program to the next level.”

Shopper Events, based in Rogers, Ark., currently works with Wal-Mart’s namesake stores on in-store demonstrations. Sam’s Club is looking to the company to improve sampling in areas such as electronics, personal wellness products and food items to entice shoppers to spend more.

Sam’s Club has underperformed the Walmart chain in the U.S. and abroad. Cornell has been working to improve results since taking the helm in early 2009, introducing new store formats, price cuts and offering more variety and more brands of items from take-home meals to baked goods.

As consumers eat out less in the shaky economy, Sam’s Club has tried to steal customers from grocery chains and rival warehouse stores like Costco Wholesale Corp. by offering more everyday goods like food and health and beauty items and paring its assortment of general merchandise like furniture and clothes.

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