'I read Sam Walton's Made in America three or four years ago. I'd barely heard of WalMart before, but gathered that it was the biggest retailer in the world.
It was such an interesting book in terms of what it said about management and expansion: fine-tuning one particular type of outlet and rolling it out across the country, but not in a cloned fashion. It was adapted from town to town, and built a management culture which meant a programme of improvement could be enshrined in the company, to avoid atrophy.
Once I'd read it, I bought 500 copies and gave one to each of my pub managers. At Wetherspoon we've also copied WalMart's practices of meeting once a week, keeping bureaucracy to a minimum and spreading information across the country quickly by phone. We critique the business - not a very British phrase.
I like Sam Walton's idea: 'You don't have to have a small ego to work at Wal-Mart, but you'd better pretend you have.' He means: don't get removed from the sharp end, and maintain a particular type of self-criticism.'
Tim Martin is chairman of J D Wetherspoon.