Wal-Mart to close its Bentonville clothing division

By Margarita Snegireva. The world's largest retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will move design and development of its apparel to New York in a bid to revive declining clothing sales and cut production time.

Wal-Mart will close the product-development and sourcing divisions for men's, women's, and children's clothing at its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters, spokeswoman Linda Blakley said yesterday. She declined to say the number of jobs affected.

The retailer said last year it was expanding design studios in New York and named new executives after clothing sales faltered. Wal-Mart has said it moved too fast into fashionable lines such as Metro 7 dresses. It now will concentrate on upgrading T-shirts and other basics in a variety of colors.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is an American public corporation that runs a chain of large, discount department stores. It is the world's largest public corporation by revenue, according to the 2007 Fortune Global 500. It was founded by Sam Walton in 1962, incorporated on October 31, 1969, and listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1972. It is the largest private employer in the world and the fourth largest utility or commercial employer, trailing the Chinese army, the British National Health Service, and the Indian Railways. Wal-Mart is the largest grocery retailer in the United States, with an estimated 20% of the retail grocery and consumables business, as well as the largest toy seller in the U.S., with an estimated 22% share of the toy market.

Wal-Mart operates in Mexico as Walmex, in the UK as ASDA, and in Japan as Seiyu. It has wholly-owned operations in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the UK. Wal-Mart's investments outside North America have produced mixed results. The company's operations in South America and China are highly successful, but it sold its retail operations in South Korea and Germany in 2006 due to sustained losses.

Wal-Mart has been criticized by some community groups, women's rights groups, grassroots organizations, and labor unions, specifically for its extensive foreign product sourcing, low rates of employee health insurance enrollment, resistance to union representation, and alleged sexism.

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