Walmart’s Latest Selling and Spending Activities

Walmart has revived its plan to sell a majority stake in its UK grocery chain ASDA, reported The Wall Street Journal (July 20).

The company previously put the process on hold in April to focus attention on managing its operations throughout the pandemic. Before fallout from the pandemic, Walmart said it was considering a possible stake sale of ASDA back in February after receiving interest from potential bidders.

“Walmart and ASDA have restarted conversations with a small number of third-party investors who are interested in acquiring a stake in ASDA,” said a Walmart spokesman on July 20.

Current bidders are not known but private-equity firms such as Apollo Global Management Inc., Lone Star Funds, and TDR Capital LLP previously competed to acquire a majority stake of ASDA and could possibly take another look, according to the people.

Walmart tried to sell ASDA to the UK’s Sainsbury PLC in 2018 as it worked toward buying India’s Flipkart Group for $16 billion. However, the UK’s competition watchdog blocked the deal in 2019, concerned it would reduce competition and potentially cause higher prices for shoppers.

ASDA was valued about $9 billion in 2018 and ranks among the UK’s biggest supermarket retailers along with Tesco PLC, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, and Lidl.

Up north, Walmart Canada will invest $3.5 billion in store and web improvements over the next five years, reported CBC July 21).

The funds will be used to renovate 150 stores with the aim of speeding up the flow of products. The investment is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs in Canada and forge partnerships with Canadian high-tech companies.

Walmart will add technology, including mobile payment capabilities from anywhere in the store, and soon the company plans to launch a merchandise pickup service at about 270 locations—or about 70% of its Canadian locations. Renovations to more than one-third of its stores will be completed over three years.

Additionally, Walmart is planning to spend $1.1 billion to speed up the flow of products by building two distribution centers in Vaughan, Ontario and Surrey, British Columbia, and will renovate an existing center in Cornwall, Ontario.

Meanwhile, Walmart will give another round of bonuses to its hourly employees and close its stores on Thanksgiving, reported CNBC (July 21).

The company will spend about $428 million on the bonuses to thank its employees for their hard work during the pandemic. Full-time hourly employees will receive $300 and part-time and temporary workers will get $150. The company will pay the bonuses on Aug. 20.

Walmart has given two other special bonuses to employees with all of the bonuses totaling $1.1 billion.

Like many retail employees, Walmart workers have been on the frontlines of the crisis. The chain has adopted a growing number of safety measures, including providing masks to employees, as well as recently requiring them for all customers.

“We know this has been a trying year, and our associates have stepped up. We hope they will enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day at home with their loved ones,” said John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. “We are certainly thankful to our people for all of their efforts.”