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Walmart Reshuffles Merchandising

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September 8, 2010

Walmart has created four core merchandising areas –– general merchandise and replenishment, food, softlines and consumables, and health and wellness and Walmart.com –– and appointed “seasoned merchants” to lead them, according to a memo obtained by Store Brands Decisions.

walmart store front“This structure aligns similar categories and allows us to be even more competitive in each customer channel, improving how we target and localize merchandise,” the memo stated. “With this new structure, talent and technology are key drivers for success.” Some categories have been recast “to enhance our ability to grow best-in-class merchants.”

The following promotions were announced:

  • Laura Phillips to SVP, Toys, Seasonal and Network Seasonal Planning. Most recently she served as VP and Division Merchandise Manager for Toys;
  • Steve Breen to SVP, Snack and Drinks. Breen joined Walmart in 2007 and “has excelled, growing our snacks and beverages business.” 
  • Michelle Gloeckler to SVP, Merchandise Execution. Prior to joining Walmart in 2009, Gloeckler spent 21 years with the Hershey Company.

“In addition to promoting talent, the new structure will also increase our momentum and merchandising strength by embedding Planning, Pricing and Modular Development directly into each merchandising organization,” according to the memo.

The following people are transitioning to new teams or assuming new roles:

  • John Westling will be the EVP of General Merchandise and Replenishment.
  • Mark Samuels will be the VP of Planning, Pricing and Modular Development for Westling’s team;
  • Seong Ohm, SVP of General Merchandise for Seiyu in Japan is moving back to the U.S. to lead the Home, Hardlines and Entertainment Global Merchandising Center (GMC), reporting to Westling.

Also reporting to Westling are Mike Moore, SVP of Hardlines; Gary Severson, SVP of Entertainment; and Jerry Spencer, VP of Replenishment.

Food Merchandising
Jack Sinclair will continue as EVP of Food. “Jack has helped transform our food categories and brings a depth of experience to his role. Jack has worked in the retail food business since 1982, holding leadership positions for Tesco, Safeway and McCurrach, a U.K.- based field merchandising business, as well as serving as the European development director for SB Capital,” the memo said.

In addition to Breen, who reports to Sinclair, Bruce Nelson will be the VP of Planning, Pricing and Modular Development

“We are consolidating all fresh and packaged grocery under one GMC,” the memo said. “Michael Lewis has made a decision to leave Walmart, and Pam Kohn, SVP, will assume responsibility for the combined Global Food and Consumables GMC, reporting to [Sinclair].”

Andy Barron, who joined Walmart in 1993 and served in many merchandising roles, is being promoted to EVP, Softlines. Prior to this promotion, Barron was SVP, Store Merchandise Execution.

Duncan MacNaughton will become EVP, Consumables, Health and Wellness and Walmart.com. Prior to his role as Chief Merchandising Officer for Walmart Canada, Duncan held leadership roles with Kraft Foods Inc., H.E. Butt Grocery Company, Albertson’s Inc. and was EVP, Merchandising and Marketing with Supervalu Inc.

Reporting to MacNaughton are Scott Huff, SVP of Consumables; John Agwunobi, President and SVP of Health and Wellness, and Scott McCall, SVP of Health and Wellness Merchandising Steve Nave, SVP, will lead Walmart.com, and Phillip Freehling will be the Senior Director of Planning, Pricing and Modular Development for MacNaughton’s team.

Customer Centricity
“We have created a role in Marketing to help us keep the customer at the center of our merchandise strategies, executing in a way that excites customers and drives traffic and sales,” the memo said.

Matt Kistler was named SVP of Marketing Operations, reporting to Stephen Quinn. “As SVP of Sustainability, Matt expanded our leadership position on carbon emissions, embedding sustainability into our product mix around the world and inspiring associates to help us lead on this important social issue,” the memo stated.

Replacing Kistler is Andrea Thomas, who previously lead Walmart’s Great Value brand redesign and repositioning, who will now report to Leslie Dach, EVP of Corporate Affairs.

John Failla headshotSBD Views: Two thoughts on this restructuring. The move for Andrea Thomas places her in another high profile role given the importance of Walmart’s global initiatives around sustainability. Finally, it will be interesting to see what if any subsequent announcements come from Walmart’s new merchandising leadership regarding the role and structure of private brands. -- John Failla for Store Brands Decisions


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