Wal-Mart to boost US apparel sourcing

Retail giant Wal-Mart has pledged to increase the amount of apparel products it sources from the US, in a bid to help onshore production.

Speaking at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual BIG Show, president and CEO Bill Simon outlined plans to boost US manufacturing and create more jobs.

As part of this effort, Wal-Mart said it will buy an additional $50 billion in US products over the next ten years. “As an industry, we could create more American jobs by supporting more American manufacturing,” he said.

Storage products, games and paper products will also be part of the sourcing initiative.

The retailer said that according to data from its suppliers, items that are made, sourced, or grown in the US account for about two-thirds of what the company spends to buy products at Walmart US.

“There is room for more,” Simon emphasized.

Some 70% of cotton grown in the US is exported where it is spun into fabric and made into apparel, towels and sheets, which is then re-imported into the country, said Simon.

However, the equation is changing between Asia and the US, Simon added, as labor costs in Asia are rising, while oil and transportation costs are high and increasingly uncertain.

The company has appointed a team to lead the effort and will also sign longer-term purchase agreements with suppliers.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart revealed it will also help veterans find jobs when they come off active duty, while also helping part-time staff move into full-time jobs.

The company projects it will hire more than 100,000 veterans during the next five years, with most jobs being in Wal-Mart stores and clubs and some in distribution centers and the Home Office.

“At the heart of our national political conversation today is one issue: creating jobs to grow the economy,” said Simon. “We are meeting with our suppliers on domestic manufacturing and are making a strong commitment to move this forward.”

For more fashion and apparel industry news, go to just-style.com

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