Wal-Mart has set up an international academy of marketing excellence based at Asda and headed by Asda director and Wal-Mart chief international marketing officer Rick Bendel.

The venture will enable the retailer to sharpen its low-price message internationally, share proven strategy and tactics and send SWAT teams to particular markets when necessary.

Speaking at Wal-Mart’s annual shareholder meeting in the US last week, Bendel told Retail Week: “We’ll have a curriculum to help coach merchants and marketers from each country to create a new generation of retail marketers.”

There will be an audit of research techniques used in measurement of price perception and communication. Bendel said: “The view is to use global leverage to ensure best practices so we can raise the bar on price perception and projection.

“Comparative advertising will clearly become more important – the world is full of claims and customers are saying: ‘prove it’.”

Bendel expects to spend 80 per cent of his time on Asda and the remainder on his international responsibilities. He said: “I see my role as to coach, show and inspire.”

Uniform Battle Hots Up

Asda has kicked off the battle for the back-to-school market two weeks earlier than ever as retailers fight to win Woolworths’ market share in the category.

Asda’s fashion brand George this week launched a £4.75 uniform line on a 10-day promotion and vowed to charge the same price for uniforms for all ages between
3 and 16.

George managing director Anthony Thompson described the launch as George’s biggest ever back-to-school promotion and said the traditional basis of pricing schoolwear on size was “cynical”. He said George had invested in product quality, introducing materials such as Teflon and Lycra.