Walmart starts up US buying project

Reuters, WASHINGTON

Sat, Nov 02, 2013 - Page 15

The world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, on Thursday announced three new manufacturing projects by suppliers in the US to produce footwear, curtains and glassware as part of a broader commitment to “buy American.”

Bill Simon, Walmart’s US president and CEO, made the announcement with US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker at SelectUSA, a two-day event designed to promote investment and job creation in the US.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart, the largest private employer in the world and with about 1.3 million employees in the US, said the three projects would create 385 jobs.

“It takes a lot of entrepreneurship; it takes a lot of innovation; it takes a lot of conviction to make that decision to take that step to invest capitol here,” Simon said.

Elan-Polo Inc will start production of injection-molded footwear in March at a factory in Hazelhurst, Georgia. The company previously made the shoes overseas.

At the press conference Elan-Polo CEO Joe Russell cited “support and encouragement” from Walmart, which it has been supplying with goods for 35 years.

Everyware Global Inc will produce canning jars for Walmart at its Monaca, Pennsylvania, facility, establishing a new made-in-the-US product line.

Louis Hornick and Co, a Walmart supplier for four decades, will establish a new facility in Allendale County, South Carolina, to make window coverings and home textiles.

“Our next goal is to encourage other businesses just like these to step up to the plate,” Pritzker said.

Thursday’s announcement was part of Walmart’s pledge, announced in January, to buy an additional US$50 billion in US-made products over the next decade.

In August, the company held a “manufacturing summit” attended by more than 500 suppliers from 34 states clamoring to get a slice of the action.

It was reported in September that, in advance of Walmart’s pledge, many of the company’s long-time suppliers had already decided to produce in the US as rising wages in China and elsewhere had eroded the allure of offshore production.