Walmart remains in buying mode to fight Amazon, says exec

Walmart CEO says the company is in acquisition mode. (Bloomberg pic)

US: Walmart Inc. remains in buying mode as it looks to differentiate its online inventory to compete with Inc., said Marc Lore, the online chief of the world’s largest retailer.

Future acquisitions will likely be in the US$50 million to US$300 million range, and could go higher, Lore said Tuesday at the Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas. Lore made his first public comments since the retailer reported decelerating online sales growth from the crucial holiday shopping season.

“We’re looking and talking to more companies than we ever had,” Lore said. “We’re definitely in an acquisition mode.”

Lore started running Walmart’s e-commerce operation after the retailer’s 2016 acquisition of for about US$3 billion. Since then, Walmart has purchased other online startups, including men’s apparel maker Bonobos.

Lore said on Tuesday that the company will keep investing in to appeal to affluent, urban millennials in New York, San Francisco and other big cities. Buying startups with their own special inventory is part of that strategy. “Having a handful of brands is not enough,” he said.

Walmart will use its own website to appeal to bargain-hunters in middle-America who don’t want to have to pay membership fees for free shipping like Amazon Prime subscribers, Lore said.

Lore addressed speculation that his days might be numbered at Walmart given its lackluster fourth quarter, saying he is committed to his full five years and possibly more.