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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott told an audience at the city’s Webster University that the “simplicity” of the company’s business plan has dictated much of its success, and said that Wal-Mart would continue to put most of its muscle behind the roll-out of supercenters, not the Neighborhood Market format.

Wal-Mart operates 49 Neighborhood Markets at present, and will open another 20-30 this year, he said. A faster rollout would not be wise, Scott said, because the company needs to develop the management talent to run the stores, and because it would distract from supercenter development.

The company operates 1,258 Supercenters, and will build 210 more in 2003.

The Post-Dispatch reports, “When asked whether Wal-Mart employees should join labor unions, Scott said he did not see how a third party could better address workers needs than the company. He insisted Wal-Mart's 1.3 million employees, for the most part, are happy.

“Still, he said, there are exceptions, and Wal-Mart needs to do a better job responding quicker to workers concerns. ‘We are going to be judged on those exceptions,’ Scott said. ‘We can't let them linger.’”

Scott also stressed Wal-Mart need to improve. “We are far from perfect,” he said. “On a scale from one to 10, I'd say we are a six.”
KC's View:
Dontcha’ love that down-home modesty?

While Wal-Mart downplays the Neighborhood Market roll-out, we fully expect that there are an awful lot of retailers in this country who will suddenly wake up during the next year or two and suddenly find that one of these stores has suddenly opened down the street. Downplaying expectations also allows Wal-Mart to maintain some element of surprise.