Wal-Mart shuffles merchandising leadership

Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart has shuffled its merchandising leadership with a broad reassignment of roles among merchandising executives aimed at improving customer service.

The changes affected executives throughout the merchandising organization and included areas such as consumables, food, general merchandise, softlines, health and wellness, shopper insights and merchandising operations. In an internal memo, chief merchandising and marketing officer Duncan Mac Naughton said he was pleased to announce, “a few changes which will help accelerate our growth and efficiency as a world-class merchant organization. Additionally, these moves provide a more specialized service to our customers, while also creating better alignment and a greater visibility across our business.”
 
Among the most significant moves was the elevation of Scott Huff to the role of executive VP of merchandising operations from his prior position as senior VP of consumables. In his new role, Huff is responsible for merchandising execution, replenishment, store layout, supplier diversity, planning, pricing, modular development and joint business planning. Working closely with Huff will be Scott Pleiman who was named senior VP of planning, pricing, modular development and joint business planning.
 
Assuming Huff’s prior responsibilities as senior VP of consumables, but in an executive VP capacity is Michelle Gloeckler. She was named executive VP of consumables and U.S. manufacturing after previously serving as senior VP of home and overseeing the retailer’s expanding domestic sourcing initiative.
 
Another key EVP move involved John Aden to the newly created role of executive VP of sales innovation. He is tasked with identifying new and disruptive service and product offerings, according to Mac Naughton. Aden had previously served as executive VP of merchandise services and executive VP of general merchandise prior to that.
 
Walmart’s Global Customer and Insights and Analytics group, led by executive VP Cindy Davis, appointed Matt Kistler to the new role of senior VP of Walmart U.S. consumer insights. He will report to Davis and Walmart U.S. chief marketing officer Stephen Quinn.

Other key changes included the following:

• In the grocery area, Ashley Buchanan was appointed senior VP of dry grocery after previously leading Walmart’s sizable snacks and beverage division and prior to that Walmart’s innovations team. Promoted to Buchanan’s role was Latriece Watkins who was named senior VP of snacks and beverages after previously serving as VP of adult beverages, a category that experienced dramatic growth under her leadership. Reporting to Watkins in a new role as VP of adult beverages is Silvia Azrai Kawas. The group will report to Jack Sinclair, Walmart’s executive VP of food.

• In the softline area, the promotion of Gloecker resulted in the promotion of Marybeth Cornwell to the role of senior VP reporting to Andy Barron, executive VP of softlines for Walmart U.S. Cornwell previously served as senior VP of home and apparel for Sam’s Club. In a related softlines move, Deanah Baker was named senior VP of apparel and ladieswear, intimates, jewelry and accessories. Diana Marshall was named VP of baby, a huge business at Walmart, after previously holding merchandising roles in the housewares, home, hardware and paint businesses.

• In the hardlines and health-and-wellness areas, Walmart named former Lowe’s and Hechinger Co., merchant to the role of VP of hardware and paint. In health and wellness, Mark Phillips was named VP of pharmaceutical merchandising after previously serving as senior director of merchandising for small formats.
 
The changes come as Walmart strives to restore same store sales growth at its U.S. stores during the back half of the year after a challenging first quarter and difficult 2013.