M & M

N ot those colorful candy treats, but two other enticements that can please us, provided we do not overindulge. I refer to Margin and Memo. I capitalize these two words because of the frequency with which I heard them at The JCK Show in Las Vegas, and otherwise in the press. This month, I offer some thoughts about margins, next month about memo. Sam Walton's concern about margins was bottom-line dollars—net profit. To achieve his targets, he believed in lowering prices as volume rose, and that volume would rise as he lowered prices. That concept obviously had something right. He built volume, in part, by selling many categories of products, most either generic or branded. He wiped out most of his competitors by rigorously controlling costs, at times brutally so. Wal-Mart sells jewelry, but it has not wiped out competition. Unlike soap or garden hoses, jewelry is an endlessly dive

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