SCOTT MEETS WAL-MART'S CRITICS

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- The president and chief executive of Wal-Mart Stores here has been lending his ear to the company's critics.In his presentation at Wal-Mart's 11th annual analysts' meeting this month, Lee Scott said he spends much of his time meeting with people "who don't particularly care for us. I don't spend much time with our fans."In these meetings, Scott said he listens to what Wal-Mart's

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- The president and chief executive of Wal-Mart Stores here has been lending his ear to the company's critics.

In his presentation at Wal-Mart's 11th annual analysts' meeting this month, Lee Scott said he spends much of his time meeting with people "who don't particularly care for us. I don't spend much time with our fans."

In these meetings, Scott said he listens to what Wal-Mart's critics have to say, "then I give them an overview of what they may have missed" in terms of how the company operates, including its wage and benefits package.

"As I talk with these groups, I find it helps illuminate the fact that those who don't like the company like our people and want to see them get a leg up on the economic ladder."

Scott also said he likes to mention the large number of applicants Wal-Mart typically attracts. "If we open a new store and 5,000 people stand in line for a job, it must be a better job than they have now," he said.

Because of lawsuits and other negative publicity, Scott said Wal-Mart has beefed up its legal, compliance and public relations departments over the past year "because nine out of 10 questions I get don't deal with retail, but with legal issues. So we've put the right kind of people in place."