Sam’s Club (again) shakes up its merchandising team with key changes

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 1,912 views 

Here we go again. Sam’s Club No. 2 executive John Furner announced in an internal memo Monday (Nov. 2) several key changes within the merchandising division which includes the separation of its food and beverage businesses into two distinct divisions.

Furner recently replaced Charles Redfield as chief merchandiser for Wal-Mart’s wholesale division.

“As we work toward our company goal of becoming the most valuable card in our members’ wallets, our business will continue its evolution to ensure we are positioned in the best possible way,” Furner noted in the internal memo obtained by Talk Business & Politics.

Earlier in October Wal-Mart announced management changes that included the departure of Chief Financial Officer Charles Holley. Also, the company announced earlier this year a new focus on “treasure hunt deals” and value products.

Furner said in the recent memo that several changes are taking place in the merchandising division to ensure the retailer has its best resources focused in the right areas to achieve relevant merchandise and deliver better value for members. Key personnel moves outlined in the merchandising division include:

Bryant Harris, senior vice president, general merchandise manager (GMM) of food and beverage, will now hold a similar role as general merchandise manager of fresh.

Reporting to Harris will be:
• Paul Hunt – vice president, divisional merchandise manager (DMM) of freezer/cooler
• Russell Mounce – vice president, DMM of produce
• Mike Turner – vice president, fresh operations
• Dennis Horn – senior merchandise director of café
• Eileen Fischer – senior merchandise director of bakery

The divisional merchandise manager of meat, a position Furner said the retailer expects to soon fill will also report to Bryant.

Sam’s Club management has been under the microscope in recent quarters as the warehouse club has failed to impress shareholders and the investment community with lackluster comps and overall stagnant growth.

Redfield was recently moved back to the Wal-Mart side of the retailer’s business where he was named executive vice president of food for Walmart U.S. a position vacated by Steve Bratspies who was named chief merchandising officer of Walmart U.S. 

Furner also said Sam’s Club has hired Toby Noiles as its senior vice president, GMM of grocery and beverage. Noiles joined Sam’s Club this week from FreshDirect, an online grocery delivery company, where she served as chief merchandising officer. Noiles also spent 29 years at Safeway where she held several management roles. The following executives began reporting to Noiles on Monday (Nov. 2):
• Rob Burns, vice president, DMM of dry grocery
· Greg Cathey, vice president, DMM of regional buying, food and beverage
· Racquel Harris, vice president, DMM of adult beverage
· Ronnie Robinson, vice president, DMM of tobacco, candy, auto fluids, wholesale trading

While comp sales and gross revenue at Sam’s have been challenged in recent quarters the warehouse has continued to show growing membership revenue.

“Our membership benefits play an important part in the company strategy to acquire and retain the right members in the club and increase their spending. To continue this focus on providing excellent financial services, Alex Aguila has been promoted to vice president, financial services,” Tracey Brown, chief member officer, noted in the same internal memo.