“From a union standpoint, Wal-Mart has always said we don’t have specialized departments,” he said. “People may do some tasks within stores but they’re all essentially trained the same.”
David Livingston of DJL Research, Pewaukee, Wis., is skeptical of the initiatives. The Fresh Produce School could be no more than a 15-minute seminar in the break room, he said.
“Remember, this is Wal-Mart we are talking about,” he said. “My guess is this is more for the press release, annual meeting … etc. … and to deflect attention from flat sales and bribery scandals. Wal-Mart has a lot to overcome with its perishables reputation.”
Changes boil down to in-store execution, Peterson said.
“I think their buyers do a reasonably good job for the size of the company,” he said. “Then when they try to execute it at store level, it becomes a whole other thing.”