retail news in context, analysis with attitude

For the second year in a row, ten thousand executives polled by Fortune magazine have named Wal-Mart America's most admired company, "despite a year of bad press and lagging stock price."

Following Wal-Mart on the top list are Berkshire Hathaway (No. 2); Southwest Airlines (No. 3); General Electric (No. 4); Dell (No. 5); Microsoft (No. 6); Johnson & Johnson (No. 7); Starbucks (No. 8); FedEx (No. 9); and IBM (No. 10).
KC's View:
This will surprise some MNB user who view us as being rabidly anti-Wal-Mart, but we would have to agree with this ranking if it is meant to reflect how a company grows, lives up to its mission and promise, and delivers profit to shareholders.

The problem for us is that there are other ways to measure excellence. They generally don't include court cases alleging gender bias, or charges that the company knowingly allowed illegal immigrants to be hired to clean its stores in order to save money, or that the company systematically tries to find ways to pay its employees less than other retailers and give them less in the way of benefits.

But many of these issues remain allegations, not proven facts. And Wal-Mart is sort of like the New York Yankees - it may be pushing the limits, but it is playing by the rules…just doing a better job than a lot of other companies.

Simply because of its size, Wal-Mart is going to generate hate and mistrust. That's inevitable.

And it will take time to judge the long-term impact that this behemoth is having on the nation's economy and culture.