SPRINGFIELD, Ark. -- The new president of Sam's Club said he is going to try to "get back to what the wholesale club business was founded on."
During Wal-Mart's annual conference call with analysts here (see SN 10/7 issue for full report), near the company's Bentonville, Ark., headquarters, Kevin Turner explained his strategy for focusing Wal-Mart's Sam's Club subsidiary on meeting the needs of small businesses.
"This is not a right turn but a change in disciplines," he said. "The competition has better discipline in its in-and-out merchandising strategy, but that will change -- we will not be out-disciplined or out-executed."
In terms of pricing, "we will not be undersold on the wholesale items small businesses want," Turner said. "We will fix our assortments and our pricing -- in some cases, margins got too high -- but we cannot be undersold on wholesale items."
Turner also said Sam's plans to emphasize its position as the lowest-cost club operator.
That change will be reflected in the look of the stores, he explained.
"In 1997, we had a very plain signage package that cost us $13,000 per store. Today, we have a package that costs us $50,000 a store, and while we like it, the members don't because it doesn't reflect our lowest-price position. We will go back to looking for the $13,000 package."