US: Walmart to boost US apparel sourcing
Retail giant Walmart has pledged to increase the amount of apparel it sources from the US, in a bid to help onshore production.
Speaking at the National Retail Federation's (NRF) annual BIG Show, president and CEO Bill Simon outlined plans to boost US manufacturing and create more jobs.
As part of this effort, Wal-Mart said it will buy an additional US$50bn in US products over the next ten years. "As an industry, we could create more American jobs by supporting more American manufacturing," he said.
As well as apparel basics, sporting goods, storage products, games and paper products will also be part of the sourcing initiative. The retailer also said the move could help onshore US production in areas like textiles.
The retailer said that according to data from its suppliers, items that are made, sourced, or grown in the US account for about two-thirds of what the company spends to buy products at Walmart US.
"There is room for more," Simon emphasised.
Some 70% of cotton grown in the US is exported to be spun into fabric and made into apparel, towels and sheets - which are then re-imported into the country, said Simon.
However, the equation is changing between Asia and the US, Simon added, as labour costs in Asia are rising, while oil and transportation costs are high and increasingly uncertain.
The company has appointed a team to lead the effort and will also sign longer-term purchase agreements to give suppliers more certainty.
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart revealed it will also help veterans find jobs when they come off active duty, while also helping part-time staff move into full-time jobs.
The company projects it will hire more than 100,000 veterans during the next five years, with most jobs being in Wal-Mart stores and clubs and some in distribution centres and at its headquarters.
"At the heart of our national political conversation today is one issue: creating jobs to grow the economy," said Simon. "We are meeting with our suppliers on domestic manufacturing and are making a strong commitment to move this forward."
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