(Adds company comment)
By Nathan Layne
Feb 17 Wal-Mart Stores Inc will create
hundreds of management positions as part of a new program aimed
at improving the fresh food sections at its U.S. stores,
according to people familiar with the matter and a spokesman for
Wal-Mart, the largest grocer in the United States, has
already hired 30 field managers and plans to hire hundreds more
over the next three years, people familiar with matter said in
recent days. Their job is to train workers and take other steps
to improve the fresh food offering in stores, the people said.
The move was first disclosed at an annual meeting of
suppliers last week in Indianapolis, the people said. That
meeting was not open to the public.
Wal-Mart spokesman Lorenzo Lopez said on Wednesday Wal-Mart
was in the process of hiring managers "to help ensure quality
and consistency in our fresh operations." He declined to comment
on the number of people who would be hired.
Wal-Mart has placed a renewed emphasis on fresh food under
the strategy of Greg Foran, head of the company's U.S.
operations. Foran sees a better fresh food offering as key to
reviving sales growth.
The move to install a new layer of managers comes as
Wal-Mart faces growing competition for grocery shoppers from
national and regional supermarket chains like Florida-based
Publix Super Markets Inc and Texas-based H-E-B.
The new managers will oversee the fresh food operations at
about 10 stores each, a Wal-Mart executive told suppliers at the
annual meeting last week, one of the people familiar with the
Wal-Mart has about 4,600 stores across the United States.
(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Chicago; Editing by Chris Reese
and Lisa Shumaker)