13 December 2007 | Antony Barton
Wal-Mart has axed more than 250 of its purchasers worldwide, including 110 posts in China.
Its buying departments in Singapore, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Turkey have closed.
A Wal-Mart spokesman said although the cuts have been made, almost 100 new internal positions have been created in its global procurement organisation. These are in sourcing, retail market import development and quality.
The redundant staff were offered "generous severance packages, beyond what was required by law".
When asked how redundancies would help improve procurement, the spokesman told SM
: "We have taken inefficiencies out of the organisation, and are taking better advantage of technology. Our organisation now maintains offices near to our supply base."
He denied that Wal-Mart's cuts in China are connected with the country's Labour Contract Law, due to be introduced on 1 January 2008. This includes an increase in the rights and pay of staff on probation, consultation of labour unions on the creation of employment rules, and limits the use of fixed-term contracts.
He further denied Wal-Mart is looking to other countries with lower labour costs, such as India.
Wal-Mart's global procurement team now consists of around 1,800 people. Most are based at the team's headquarters in Shenzhen, China. They oversee the sourcing of merchandise from almost 6,800 factories in 55 countries.