Wal-Mart shuffles divisions’ leaders
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is shaking up its food and merchandise teams, outlining a lengthy list of new leaders in three internal memos late last week.
The memos, which were distributed to employees Friday, were from Charles Redfield, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president for food for U.S. stores; Andy Barron, U.S. general merchandise executive vice president; and Scott Pleiman, U.S. merchandise operations executive vice president.
“With constant change
in retail, we’re fortunate to have leaders from across the company who can bring their experience and knowledge to new roles and deliver the results we need to win together,” Redfield wrote in his internal memo.
Some of the key changes introduced in the company’s food division include a new position for Shawn Baldwin, who will transition out of his post as general merchandise manager for produce and global produce sourcing into a role focusing on Hispanic customers. Redfield said in the memo that Baldwin will work on the “important initiative,” but added that more details would be available at a later date.
Martin Mundo will slide into the position previously held by Baldwin. Mundo, who has held several positions within the company since 1994, is taking on the new role in the food business after working as the senior vice president of operations for the southeast division.
Wal-Mart also decided to split the bakery and delicatessen divisions because they are “more important than ever to customers,” according to Redfield. Kerry Robinson no longer will oversee the deli business but continues to lead the bakery department. Tyler Lehr has been promoted to senior vice president and general merchandise manager of deli services.
General merchandise divisions have been streamlined as well, according to Barron’s memo.
Scott McCall will lead entertainment, toys and seasonal product categories, while Deanah Baker has taken on additional duties as general merchandise manager for all of apparel, shoes and accessories. Jeff Evans — who was overseeing men’s apparel, children’s and shoes — is now responsible for home merchandise, which includes cooking, dining, bed and bath, home decor, fabrics, and crafts.
Wal-Mart’s merchandise operations now will be led by centralized teams who will “work with buying leadership to drive value and provide better insights into customer expectations,” according to the internal memo from Pleiman.
Among numerous changes, Greg Hall has moved from general merchandise manager of entertainment to senior vice president of food merchandise operations. Senior Vice President
Kim Strickland now heads merchandise operations for consumables and health and wellness. Kevin Pate has been named senior vice president of general merchandise operations.
Laura Kennedy, an analyst with research firm Kantar Retail, said in an email that the leadership changes show the rising importance of merchandising operations and point to Wal-Mart’s “focus on balancing efficiencies in the store with an improved experience.”
“It would seem like the merchandising operations folks will be pulling a lot of both of those levers,” Kennedy said in the email.
The changes were announced the same week Wal-Mart conducted another round of corporate layoffs at its home office in Bentonville, which largely affected the company’s merchandising and replenishment divisions. Wal-Mart did not confirm the number of employees who were affected during the latest round of layoffs, but a source said there were “a few dozen.”
Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove said there were “several dozen promotions” within the company last week as well, including category team assistants being elevated to merchandise specialists. Those employees work with buying teams in merchandising.
Bob Williams, senior vice president and managing director of Simmons First Investment Group Inc. in Little Rock, said the recent moves are added to what has been an “above average” amount of restructuring the past few months.
“They normally tend to make it quick and painless,” Williams said of Wal-Mart’s restructuring, including layoffs. “This has been a little more dragged out and in phases.”
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