Walmart (wmt) told employees on Friday that it wanted to build a brand new home office to better integrate its various teams. But unlike Amazon, which wants a second headquarters in another city in addition to its current home in Seattle, Walmart will keep all headquarters staff in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Wal-Mart Stores founder Sam Walton chose the current location at S.W. 8th Street and Walton Boulevard in Bentonville, the city in northwestern Arkansas where it has 20 buildings, in 1971 because of the low cost of running a business there.
Now, as the company pivots more assuredly towards e-commerce, it wants its new facilities to reflect the modern Walmart and consolidate space so that workers spend less time getting from one building to another and more time working together on problems.
“We need to be curious, collaborative, agile and accountable if we are to win in the future. We need a workplace that fosters those skills and traits,” Wal-Mart Stores CEO Doug Millon told employees in a note to staff posted on the web.
The project should take five to seven years to complete, and will be located on a lot that takes up an entire city block located about two miles east of its current headquarters.
Walmart operates large offices in Silicon Valley, and in recent years has taken steps to make sure the dot com and store planning teams collaborate more closely to be faster to react to market changes. The retailer’s online sales rose 63% last quarter but it remains very far behind Amazon and is eager to keep its momentum going.
Amazon last week announced it was seeking bid from locations in the U.S. and Canada to build a second headquarters, prompted many business development agencies at the national, state, provincial and city level to prepare bids in the hops of winning a jobs bonanza for their constituency.
As for Walmart, its current headquarters may have history and some charm, but the space is poorly lit, maze-like and much of the parking is a long walk to the building. At a time Walmart wants to attract as much of the best talent as it can, and Bentonville can be a tough sell, it’s clear its headquarters have to be more inviting, something McMillon acknowledged.
“You’ll see improved parking, meal services, fitness, and natural light—yes, natural light,” he said.