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Walmart plans new 300-acre headquarters to attract top talent

Julia La Roche

Walmart (WMT) on Friday revealed details for an expansive new headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas — referred to as the home office — as the retailer seeks to attract top talent in a technology-driven world.

For the first time, Walmart is sharing renderings that it says have a "very different look and feel" from its present home on the corner of S.W. 8th Street and Walton Boulevard. The sprawling campus will sit on more than 300 acres, and is expected to feature an array of amenities for employees.

Walmart's new Home Office in Bentonville, Ark. will feature a 300-acre "connected campus" meant to "foster creativity" as the retailer seeks top talent.

"We view this more like a college university campus versus walled off from the community corporate headquarters. We want it to feel and be very accessible to the community," said Dan Bartlett, Walmart’s executive vice president of corporate affairs.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer first announced plans for its new headquarters back in September 2017, around the same time Amazon (AMZN) commenced its search for its second headquarters (HQ2).

Construction and demolition is set to begin for July. Walmart's associates will move into the new building in phases over multiple years, helping manage capital costs, the company said.

‘Very competitive talent war’

The new Walmart Home Office is meant to have a college campus feel that's open to the community.

The new home office, which will remain in Walmart’s hometown, is a "connected campus" meant to "foster creativity," according to the retail giant.

"What do associates care about when it comes to their workplace? They want a space that promotes real connections, creativity and health," Bartlett wrote in a Walmart blog post.

“This means ample natural light, expanded food offerings, convenient parking, fitness options and a childcare facility,” Bartlett added. "They want to work in an office environment that makes them better every day just as they do the same for the company every day."

Presently, Walmart’s home office stretches across more than 20 buildings, many repurposed warehouses and distribution centers, in Bentonville and the surrounding area that Walmart’s CEO said became "expensive and inefficient to maintain.

The hope is that the new home office will help the world's largest retailer attract and retain high-quality talent as it continues its digital transformation.

"[It's] a very competitive talent war, and as we are striving to attract and retain the best talent in order for us to win the future of retail, a key component of that is the work environment in which we're creating," Bartlett told reporters.

The newly released renderings and details will serve as a master plan to guide the construction efforts, but things may change.

Bartlett added that "there's still a lot of work to be done and we have not crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i’ about what every single building is going to look like both on the outside and the inside.”

Still, he said, “this is going to give a conceptual framework and design theory and philosophy about what we are trying to achieve with this new campus," he said.

Walmart's new Home Office campus will feature walking and biking trails and lakes

Walmart gleaned insights for its new campus from visiting companies like McDonald's (MCD) and college campuses such as Stanford, University of Texas, and the University of Arkansas, in search of ideas for integrating the community into its campus.

Community members will be able to use the trails and have access to the large park on the campus.

“Arkansas has been good to us, and there’s nowhere else we’d rather call home. When I imagine the next 60 years, I can’t help but smile at the possibilities," said CEO Doug McMillon, in a statement.

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.