Walmart grapples with intensifying competition

Holds annual shareholders' meeting where Chairman Rob Walton hands off role to son in law

Walmart is under a microscope.

Revenue at stores open at least in the U.S. posted three consecutive quarterly increases, but that came after seven straight declines.

And the recent increases have been small. Like many retailers catering to the lower income group, Walmart has been hurt by an uneven economy that hasn't buoyed its customers financially. Meanwhile, Walmart Stores Inc., is grappling with a shopper who is increasingly researching and buying online, and company faces intensifying competition on all fronts, from dollar stores to

To counter that pressure, the company is accelerating the rollout of smaller stores and also investing in technology, like online grocery services.

It just launched a subscription service for online shoppers with an annual fee of $50. But the company, which is also under pressure from labour-backed groups to treat its workers better, is also putting more emphasis on investing in its workers.

The company announced earlier this year a $1 billion investment in wage increases and improved training that includes raising the minimum hourly pay for its workers to $9 in April. By next February, the company will raise its minimum wage to $10 for hourly workers.

With more training and higher pay for employees, the company is hoping for a sales boost.

That has not quieted labour groups, which say workers are still struggling. They are pushing for wages of $15 per hour.

In other news, Walmart is passing the chairmanship of the world's largest retailer from the son of late founder Sam Walton to a third generation. The company said that board Chairman Rob Walton will step down and be succeeded by Vice Chairman Greg Penner, who is his son-in-law.

The changes become effective at the end of the company's annual shareholders' meeting, which is being held Friday.

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