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Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores turned portions of its annual shareholder meeting Friday into a music festival of sorts, with Justin Timberlake hosting the event and several musical performances.
Adding musical star power to the corporate event were Taylor Swift, Lionel Richie, the Zac Brown Band, which performed “Colder Weather,” followed later by performances of Juanes and a cappella gospel group Take 6. A performance by Celine Dion closed the meeting.
The meeting, which also served as the 50th birthday party for the world’s largest retailer, started at 8 a.m. ET in Fayetteville, Ark.
Company executives stressed the firm’s solid financial performance and highlighted a commitment to integrity amid a Mexican bribery scandal that has led to much criticism. CEO Mike Duke said his company is “committedd to compliance and integrity,” and “we are doing everything we can” to get to the bottom of what happened in Mexico. “It’s either the right thing to do or we shouldn’t do it at all,” he said.
But there was more entertainment than typical at shareholder meetings.
Timberlake at one point was shown in a backstage video. “My duties are going beyond hosting,” he said. “It seems to be running the gamut.” He then handed out towels and coffee pots to Wal-Mart staffers asking for those items before the star MC introduced a video about a family of Wal-Mart employees.
“It’s incredible to absorb and watch the impact Wal-Mart makes” on people across the globe, Timberlake said.
Rosalind Brewer, president and CEO of the company’s Sam’s Club unit, also made several musical and broader entertainment references in looking back at past milestones her business has achieved over the decades.
For example, she called the 1980s “the decade of Sam’s Club,” as the first such club opened in 1983. But she also mentioned that the ’80s were the decade of the likes of Michael Jackson.
Following the 1990s, about which she cited James Cameron‘s Titanic, among other things, the 2000s brought the world Beyonce, Harry Potter and more Sam’s Club success, she added.
Before Dion’s performance, Timberlake told the Wal-Mart staff and shareholders in attendance that “I finally understand the Wal-Mart way. You are a family.”
He also acknowledged that “I buy a lot at Wal-Mart” and “Wal-Mart has always been a staple of my family.”
He said that growing up in Tennessee, his family would often buy at the retail, including his first toys and Thanksgiving ham. His step father bought him 50 shares of Wal-Mart stock when he was 10,” Timberlake recalled. But he cashed it out a few months later after a runup in the stock and bought toys at Wal-Mart, he said.
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