Walmart Creates Specialized ‘SWAT Teams’ To Prepare Stores For Renovation

Walmart has taken a unique approach to handling the 500 store remodels it undertakes annually. The retail giant has quietly rolled out “SWAT teams,” consisting of small groups of remodeling specialists, over the past year. There are currently 1,000 SWAT team members, and that number is expected to rise to 1,400 by the end of 2020 as they expand from two markets to a total of 15.

Each SWAT team is based in an urban market with a high concentration of stores and consists of 30 associates who have received special training at Walmart’s Academies. These associates are often full-time employees who have worked in multiple departments, giving them a wide breadth of knowledge regarding how a Walmart store operates.

Having internal teams that specialize in remodels both cuts costs and improves efficiency for Walmart, because the company’s average store remodel requires hiring up to 60 temporary associates to complete the 12-week process. The sheer number of renovations, combined with thousands of smaller special projects, makes the work of finding temporary help both time-consuming and expensive.


The SWAT teams, which are currently based in Atlanta and Dallas, work at night to handle jobs such as building fixtures and moving counters so new floors can be installed, according to Bloomberg. This frees up time for associates on the floor to handle day-to-day operations and minimizes disruptions during operating hours.

“Their entire focus is on remodels now,” said Don Wetherby, SVP at WD Partners, a retail design and architectural firm that works with Walmart in an interview with Bloomberg. “You can’t rely on the store operators to do that — they’ve got a store to run. If you have a roving team that understands how it all works, it’s more efficient.”

Walmart isn’t the first retailer to create a specialized group for renovations. Best Buy has maintained “project teams” for similar work since 1998, and Target has teams that serve a similar purpose.

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