Don't moan, just quit, says Wal-Mart chief

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The Independent Online

Amid a continuing storm over poverty pay and union-bashing by the mighty retailer, leaked internal web-chats revealed a testy exchange between Lee Scott and a store manager he implied was being disloyal.

The manager had asked Mr Scott why "the largest company on the planet cannot offer some type of medical retirement benefits?" Mr Scott replied: "Quite honestly, this environment isn't for everybody. There are people who would say, 'You should take the risk and take billions of dollars out of earnings and put this in retiree health benefits and let's see what happens to the company'. If you feel that way, then you as a manager should look for a company where you can do those kinds of things."

Wal-Mart tried to play down the leak, saying Mr Scott had been stung into an angry riposte by his questioner's sarcastic tone.

The internal website, Lee's Garage, gives Wal-Mart employees the opportunity to post questions to Mr Scott. But the leaked exchanges suggest managers are struggling to maintain morale at the company, which is expected to report annual sales of $295bn (£170bn) and net profits of $11bn next Tuesday.

He is forced repeatedly to address criticisms that Wal-Mart's health plans are too miserly. And on criticism that Wal-Mart has become too dominant, he says: "It wouldn't be uncommon in the UK for someone like Tesco to do 25 per cent of total grocery sales. That would make our grocery sales three to four times larger if we had the same percentage in the US."

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