Lee Scott, CEO of US retail giant Wal-Mart, told journalists at the second annual Wal-Mart media conference that the company was in the midst of a “transformation” as it tries to reach out to consumers who shop in its stores for food but not cloths or houseware.

Wal-Mart is also attempting to counter criticism that it is too big, the Irish Independent reported, saying that it will continue to grow as long as customers keep visiting its stores.

Scott delivered a speech that addressed perceptions that the retailer provides poorly paid jobs with few benefits. Touching on key points such as employment practices, environmental sustainability and community development, Scott was critical of labour groups who have organised grassroots campaigns designed to pressure Wal-Mart into offering higher wages and more benefits.

“Union-funded critics say the changes under way at this company are a publicity stunt,” Scott told journalists. “They couldn’t be more wrong.”

Recently, Wal-Mart has introduced employee healthcare plans with lower premiums, promised to use renewable energy and create zero waste and launched a neighbourhood rejuvenation scheme.