A business manager once said that if he ran the company, he would like nothing better than to post everyone’s salary on the bulletin board. On the surface this sounds radical and sure to foster disruption, but when you think about it, if the company structures its salaries fairly, pays competitively (this doesn’t necessarily mean top dollar), and rewards are based on performance, theoretically the manager should be comfortable in explaining anyone’s salary and publishing it openly.
In a perfect world this type of openness might fly.
On the other hand, how many companies operate on the other end of the information spectrum where owners and managers closely guard company information and performance data and work diligently to withhold it from the rank and file workers? And how does this impact productivity and performance?
In the middle, a seven-piece imported procelain enamel set priced at $39.86 is dominant. And, at the high end, Club aluminum at $60 or so for seven pieces is the lone entry. It’s about to be joined, though, by competitively-priced seven-piece sets of Farberware in smaller stores and open stock Farber in large stores.
“We believe in category dominance,” stresses Jim reynolds, a housewares buyer. “We’re offering opening, middle and top price points for our customers, who are most mostly working class and very price and brand-name consicous.”
Microwave accessories have been another big success story, with sales doubled in 1983, but the good-better-best lesson really didn’t apply. Wal-Mart sandwiched new lines of Rubbermaid and Litton cookware between existing anchor Hocking and Corning SKUs, and also made one-third more shelf space available. Most of the increases, though, came in Ancor pieces prices under $5.
Says Estes, the buyer: “Anchor is where we do our volume. Rubbermaid has been a little disappointing, and we don’t know whether we’ll carry it this year. It may be that its prices and set mix have been a little wrong. Its light weight doesn’t communicate a quality image, and many people don’t seem to recognize all its features. Maybe Rubbermaid has to do more educating.”
In other categories, bare-bones basics attract a lot of attention. Ceiling fans at $79 and less and vacs at under $100 are mainstays. An imported 10-piece wok set at $9.96 is “blossoming,” one observer says. Corning’s Pyrex has been replaced with Anchor’s glass ovenware because the latter’s display have more impact. Cutlery displays
BENTONVILLE, Ark.–1983 was a fantastic growth year for the housewares division of Wal-Mart Stores.
The department managed to pull in high profits while cutting prices–reportedly outpacing storewide growth in same-unit sales by 15 percent.
The company has good planning and good execution.
This kind of performance has enhanced the already strong reputation the chain enjoys among competitors and suppliers. “Wal-Mart is an excellent buying operation. The company has good planning and good execution. It is not uncommon to find a retailer with one of the two, but a company with both stands out,” sayd Wolf Schmitt, Rubbermaid’s vice president sales and marketing.
A regional manager for a major Wal-Mart supplier credits the retailer’s success to its “highly capable” buying team. “The buyers know exactly what they want to do and who their customers are. On top of that, they really want to work for the company. You just don’t see that kind of dedication from employees in the Northeast,” he says.
Wal-Mart general merchandise manager William R. Field attributes that dedication to Sam Walton, the company’s chairman. “A real work ethic has been established here by the chairman, and as a result people are willing to put in long hours,” says Fields of Walton, who is now 65 years old and somewhat less involved with store operations on a day-to-day basis than he once was.
Small electrics manufacturers heralded in more than the New Year this week: they toasted the beginning of what some say will be a new industry.
According to many observers, the projected sale of General Electric’s housewares division to Black & Decker will alter the complexion of the industry. At the least, it portends in some major categories changes in market share that leave some manufacturers “lucking their chops” in anticipation.
While the $300 million deal is still in the preliminary stages of negotiation, speculation about the effects of a transfer of GE’s huge volume to another company is well developed. Those projections take two directions–one very positive for Black & Decker and the other very positive for the other established manufacturers.
The first scenario recognizes the leading power-tool manufacturer’s skill in manufacturing efficiency and product development. According to one former GE official, “Black & Decker has always shown leadership in cost reduction and product innovation. They are just the right sort of people to take over an established and powerful business and bring in new ideas and concepts to make these products more efficiently.”
The second prognostication recognizes two essential ingredients of GE’s strength: A name-brand recognition that can guarantee as much as 10 market share percentage points and a distribution system that has been the mainstay of GE’s sales through lean and fat years.
Considering that Black & Decker must relinquish the use of that coveted GE monogram in three years, many say that the firm has a long uphill battle before it to establish the requisite consumer identification with food heating and preparation devices. Distribution system
“Perhaps more significant than the brand name, however, is GE’s distribution system,” said another former GE official. “After working in that area and then working for a competitor, I can tell you that that is some operation.
Most fiber executives feel growth in home furnishings
Encouraged by the recovery in home furnishings in 1983, fiber producers are looking to window coverings and upholstery to lead their gains in 1984.
The importance of the home this year is reflected by intensified efforts of those producers already entrenched in home furnishings and by products unveiled by newcomers looking to capitalize on the projected growth of home furnishings.
“We expect it to be a very good year in home furnishings and we’re looking to accommodate that upturn,” said Harry Greene, director of marketing for home furnishings, Allied Corp., in a comment indicative of the optimism of fiber executives. The growth in fibers with home furnishings end uses has also assumed an added importance in view of the ever-increasing tide of imports in apparel fibers.