Wal-Mart To Build Back Home -- WSJ

By Sarah Nassauer Features Dow Jones Newswires

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (September 16, 2017).

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Friday it will build new headquarters in its hometown of Bentonville, Ark., a little over a week after rival Amazon.com Inc. announced it would establish a second headquarters outside its Seattle campus.

Wal-Mart has used its current main office -- a one-story building with few windows and a shortage of parking spots -- since company founder Sam Walton in 1971 chose what was warehouse as an inexpensive base of operations. The retailer, which owns more than 20 buildings in the area, has long considered building a new headquarters.

"Many of these facilities, including the current Home Office, are significantly beyond their shelf life," Chief Executive Doug McMillon told employees in a blog post. "Because they are so dispersed, they literally encourage us to work in silos and cause us to waste time and energy traveling between locations."

Last week, Amazon said it was soliciting proposals as it considers where to open a new corporate campus, triggering intense interest because of the potential for thousands of high-paying jobs that the location would attract.

Wal-Mart said its announcement wasn't prompted by the Amazon news. The two retailers are battling for customers, with Wal-Mart investing in e-commerce and physical stores to hold on to shoppers, while Amazon recently bought Whole Foods Market Inc. in part to diversify beyond its online operations and compete with Wal-Mart on groceries.

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The goal with Wal-Mart's new office would be to house most of its regional staff in one place and accommodate a more "digitally native workforce," said Mr. McMillon. "You'll see improved parking, meal services, fitness, and natural light -- yes, natural light."

Wal-Mart expects the project to take five to seven years to complete, on a lot that encompasses an entire city block located about two miles east of its current headquarters. The retailer considered building a new headquarters on the site around four years ago, but abandoned the concept as too costly at the time, according to a person familiar with the situation. Wal-Mart declined to comment on past plans.

The new campus will likely accommodate 14,000 to 17,000 employees, which accounts for most of its staff in the region, said a spokesman, declining to share the current employee count.

The company didn't ask the city of Bentonville for financial support for the project, said a company spokesman, but it has applied for a grant from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

Write to Sarah Nassauer at sarah.nassauer@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 16, 2017 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)