It is hard for me to remember a time when I have been so mindful of the reason my Dad founded Wal-Mart. He knew that every day – and especially in today's tough economy – the world needs a retailer that saves people money so they can live better. He really built Wal-Mart for these times.
It is humbling to know that millions of customers around the world, some of whom are new to our stores and clubs, turn to us for this very purpose. I'm very proud that Wal-Mart is there for them. In fact, we are better positioned than ever to meet the needs of our customers and members.
Our strategies are clearly defined. Our management team is unified and focused on delivering the best possible experience for customers and members. Our merchandising teams work with suppliers to ensure we offer value, variety and quality. Our price leadership position throughout the world is working for customers, members, associates and shareholders alike. Our sales are strong. Wal-Mart has a very solid balance sheet and manages the business prudently and from a position of strength. Our commitments to sustainability, responsible sourcing and associate opportunity increasingly are making a real and constructive difference in the world.
Growth opportunities continue to emerge even in difficult business environments. Wal-Mart's strengths provide us with the confidence and capacity to pursue these opportunities and the resources to expand the scope of our strategies even further.
These strengths come from consistency – knowing who we are, what we do and how we do it – day in and day out. This consistency is a function of leadership. Consider that when Mike Duke started his new job in February, he became only the third CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to succeed Sam Walton.
That is a remarkable track record in today's global business environment, and I am very pleased that Mike is leading Wal-Mart.
It also underscores the bench strength that Wal-Mart has built throughout the many ranks of the Company – from store managers to senior management – that is essential to succession planning and operational stability.
Because of Mike's broad experience, both in the United States and internationally, he understands and appreciates the complexities of leading Wal-Mart in a global economy. He is committed to the culture and mission that are Sam Walton's legacy, as well as to our associates, customers, members and shareholders. The management teams working with Mike are extremely talented and capable.
I cannot recount Wal-Mart's strengths without acknowledging the extraordinary contributions of Lee Scott, who retired January 31 after nine years as CEO. My Dad would have been proud of Lee and his accomplishments. He oversaw a tremendous period of growth and global expansion for our Company.
Personally, Lee stands out as a leader who was always willing to take on challenging issues and to engage our critics in constructive discussions when necessary. In doing so, he helped Wal-Mart make great strides in areas such as sustainability, diversity and inclusion of all people. He has helped us engage with others on important issues such as health care, and also helped strengthen Wal-Mart's reputation as a responsible and caring company.
It has been said that often the best test of a manager is how things go after he or she has left, rather than while he or she is on the job. From this perspective, I believe Lee's legacy will be enduring. The strengths that Wal-Mart enjoys today will serve us well as we continue to manage through these challenging times.
Beyond the business strategy, Wal-Mart will continue to succeed because of its culture and values, and the dedication of our associates. We are, after all, fulfilling today the very same commitment to customers that my Dad made when he founded Wal-Mart. We save people money so they can live better.
Chairman of the Board of Directors,
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.