Wal-Mart shuf­fles di­vi­sions’ lead­ers

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - ROB­BIE NEISWANGER

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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