Walmart, peddler of smiley faces, octogenarian greeters, and oft-controversial business practices, hopes to increase U.S. apparel and textile production with its Made in America push.
Michelle Gloeckler, Walmart's senior vice president of home and the exec helming the initiative, told Women's Wear Daily the retailer is a year and a half into its decade-long pledge to put $250 billion toward U.S.-made products, and on track to meet that (huge) number. And, at its Manufacturing Summit in mid-August, Walmart will bring together "component parts makers" — including "several U.S. textile companies, ranging from spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing and cut-and-sew operations." Additionally, the corporation has identified 20 finalists for the inaugural Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, which would distribute $10 million in grants during a five-year period to nonprofits and colleges. The debut round, though, "is focused on innovation in textile manufacturing and common manufacturing processes in the broader consumer goods area," WWD notes.
But, despite its best efforts, as Gloeckler points out: "Walmart does not make anything. Our goal is to facilitate and accelerate." She adds, "[W]e can…reach out to mayors, congressmen, senators and governors and ask them to name the factories in their districts that have capacity and flexibility and can make component parts for suppliers who want to buy them here." However, Walmart would undoubtedly continue to sell Made in Not-America items, and don't think we forgot that it hasn't signed the Bangladesh Accord. Perhaps it should reach out to Abercrombie & Fitch, Benetton, Primark, and Inditex, and ask them to send over a copy. (Women's Wear Daily)