Asda team runs Wal-Mart academy

Asda’s marketing team will train retail executives from all of Wal-Mart’s non-US brands at a new global retail marketing academy based here in the UK.

Wal-Mart, the most valuable brand in the world, according to the latest Brand Finance Global 500 survey, is relying on the centre of marketing excellence to help it grow its share in all of its markets outside the US.

Rick Bendel, recently promoted by Wal-Mart to international chief marketing officer after three years as Asda’s top marketer, will run the academy, which will attract Wal-Mart retail bosses from India, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Canada and Argentina among other markets.

In an exclusive interview with Marketing Week, Bendel admits that Wal-Mart’s 1999 takeover of Asda had far more to do with food expertise than any perceived marketing expertise. But it is the latter that has most influenced the US retail giant.

Bendel says: “In the US, retail businesses generally don’t see marketing as something that can make a whole lot of difference.

“But they’ve since seen the effect in the UK of marketing, which was given equal if not higher status than trading and operations.”

Bendel, along with Asda’s chief merchandising officer Darren Blackhurst, will both take major roles in running courses for the international students.

“I’m a coach,” says Bendel. “I’ll help get them to a place where marketing plays a much bigger role in each market.”

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