11/25/13

Wal-Mart names a new CEO

Doug McMillon was president and CEO of the chain’s global operations.

Zak Stambor , Managing Editor

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has promoted Doug McMillon, its president and CEO of international operations, to CEO. He takes over when current chief executive Mike Duke retires in February. Duke became CEO in 2009.

Under Duke's tenure, Wal-Mart’s online sales have more than doubled from an Internet Retailer-estimated $3.5 billion in 2009 to $7.7 billion in 2012, according to data on Internet Retailer’s Top500Guide.com. And Wal-Mart, No. 4 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide, will likely reach $10 billion in online sales this year and $13 billion in 2014, said Neil Ashe, the retail chain’s global e-commerce chief, in October.

Part of Wal-Mart’s strong online growth is likely thanks to the retailer’s investment in online technology throughout Duke’s tenure. For instance, in 2011 Wal-Mart bought Kosmix, a Silicon Valley firm whose technology searches and analyzes online social data, such as Twitter posts, to personalize web content. It then folded Kosmix into @WalMartLabs, a technology group tasked with advancing the integration of Wal-Mart’s stores and web and mobile channels.

Since its 2011 launch, @WalMartLabs has worked on a number of projects across the retailer’s businesses, including developing a new site search algorithm last year that presents results based on the items consumers have recently bought on Walmart.com, the products shoppers are posting about and sharing on Facebook, the products that have received positive reviews, as well as the items that other consumers have searched for and clicked on.

“Mike put in place the building blocks for the next generation Wal-Mart and today the company is stronger, more global and more unified across all our stores, mobile and online,” says Rob Walton, chairman of Wal-Mart’s board of directors.  “He also reinvigorated the productivity loop and delivered strong financial performance. During his tenure the company made critical investments in talent and technology to expand Wal-Mart to even more customers globally and stepped up its progress on social and environmental issues.”

McMillon, 47, has worked at Wal-Mart since 1990. He has been in his current position since 2009, Wal-Mart says. From 2006 to 2009, he was president and CEO of Sam’s Club, the retailer’s warehouse club.

McMillon has long been thought to be a potential successor to Duke, says analyst Peter Benedict, of Robert W. Baird & Co. “Doug has spent his entire 22-year career at Wal-Mart and is very well known to ‘the Street,’” he says.

McMillon’s background will likely help as the retailer pushes into new international e-commerce markets. Wal-Mart’s international e-commerce strategy has largely focused on three countries—the United Kingdom, Brazil and China. But McMillon earlier this year said the retailer planned to expand its e-commerce operations in such markets as Japan, Mexico and Canada.In all, Wal-Mart operates e-commerce sites in 10 countries: the United States, United Kingdom, China, Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Africa, Argentina, Chile and Mexico.

“Our company has a rich history of delivering value to customers across the globe and as their needs grow and change we will be there to serve them,” says McMillon.

Walton says the leadership change stemmed from Duke’s desire to retire and that the change comes at a “time of strength and growth” for the retailer. “The company has the right strategy to serve the changing customer around the world, and Doug has been actively involved in this process,” he says. “Doug is uniquely positioned to lead our growing global company and to serve the changing customer, while remaining true to our culture and values.”  

Duke, 63, will serve as chairman of the board's executive committee and stay on as an adviser to McMillon for one year.

Topics:

Doug McMillon, e-commerce hiring, Neil Ashe, NewsMakers, retail chains, Top 500, Wal-Mart

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