Wal-Mart to Headline at Retail City Conference

The driving force behind the "pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap" philosophy of the world's largest retailer is to share his insights with Middle East business leaders on turning a modest business into a global giant. Don Soderquist, former Senior Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of Wal-Mart, will be giving the keynote address on the remarkable growth of the US retail giant at Retail City which takes place from 1-3 June 2008 at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre.

"No other executive since the legendary Walton himself has embodied the principles of the company's culture. Don will share his knowledge and experience of Wal-Mart's amazing success, something that regional retailers should find invaluable, " said Irina Awote, Conference Director of Retail City 2008, organised by IIR Middle East.

Founded by Sam Walton in 1962, Wal-Mart is the world's largest public corporation by revenue, according to the Fortune Global 500. Wal-Mart was built on Walton's 'pile 'em high - sell 'em cheap' philosophy. The company built on this by re-investing profits to obtain better terms from suppliers, in turn leading to better deals for customers.

After Walton's death, Soderquist became known as the 'keeper of the culture' and believes business ethics are not a luxury but an essential element in creating high performance organisations.

Now with 7100 stores in 15 countries, Wal-Mart recently reported three months sales above US$100 billion for the first time in history. With almost two million employees, Wal-Mart is also the largest private employer in the world and the fourth largest utility or commercial employer after the Chinese army, the UK National Health Service, and Indian Railways.

"Put into perspective, Wal-Mart is bigger than Europe's Carrefour, Tesco and Metro combined, " added Awote.

The Retail City 2008 exhibition and conference brings together global retailers, investors, shopping centre developers, franchise networks, shopping centre managements, architects and regional authorities to discuss the dynamic retail sector both in the Middle East and other emerging markets.

Other high profile speakers on the conference programme include, Dr Ira Kalish, Director of Global Economics & Consumer, Deloitte Research; Girish Gupte, General Manager, Al Futtaim Retail; Richard Ried, SVP Development, MAF Shopping Malls; John Hadden, Retail Property Director, M.H. Alshaya; Ian Watt, Director, Old Mutual Properties, South Africa; Dave Wallace, Associate Director - Retail Services, Colliers International and Ghassan Hout, Head of Wholesale, adidas - Emerging Markets.

This year a new Retailers Pavilion will also be unveiled providing invaluable networking opportunities for both new and established retailers to expand their brand presence and to make direct contact with mall management, retail developers, investors and operators.

The prestigious Retail City Awards will also take place at the June event rewarding excellence in the retail industry, with categories such as Emerging Market Retailer, Retailer of the Year, Corporate Social Responsibility, Architectural Designer, Franchise Operator, Mall of the Year and World's Best Retail Destination.

Retail City 2008 has received solid backing from key industry players such as Mohammad Al Habib, who has taken Platinum sponsorship and Aswaq Management & Services and Latin Organics who have taken Gold sponsorship. Silver sponsors include Beyoot Real Estate & Marketing, Duncan Private Walth Management, LLC and Grand Optics.

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