The executive shuffle in the top corporate offices at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. continues with news that Walmart U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Quinn will exit the retailer in January.
Quinn will join Chief Financial Officer Charles Holley in the retirement ranks at the close of the retailer’s fiscal year in January. Rumors of Quinn’s departure first emerged in the summer. At that time Wal-Mart Stores told Talk Business & Politics there was no imminent change slated for the chief marketing office position. On Thursday (Dec. 10) the retailer confirmed Quinn’s retirement.
“Stephen has always advocated on behalf of our customers and has built a strong team that delivers our message to them in compelling ways. With responsibility for all aspects of our marketing efforts, including customer research, strategy, program development, branding and customer communication, he and his team have represented the voice of the customer. In 2008, he led our rebranding effort, including the introduction of our logo and tagline – Save money. Live better. Other highlights from Stephen’s Walmart career include a number of award-winning advertising campaigns, Walmart’s stronger focus on reaching multicultural customers, and a digital transformation in our marketing efforts, including partnerships with Facebook, YouTube and others,” said Deisha Barnett, corporate spokeswoman for Walmart U.S.
Quinn’s retirement, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, will make room for the retailer to revamp its Walmart U.S. marketing department. The retailer confirmed the hiring of Michael Frances, a former marketing chief for Target, as a consultant who will begin Jan. 1 to help with the transition of that department. Frances, who spent three decades at Target is largely credited for that retailer’s “chic” image that resonated with consumers. This would play into Wal-Mart’s plan to try and attract more higher-income shoppers online and in-stores.
Quinn first joined Walmart in 2005 from PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay where he was also chief marketing officer for the company’s North American division. He was promoted to the top marketing position at Walmart in 2007. Quinn also worked for a number of Walmart suppliers including Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson in finance and marketing roles before joining Walmart.
Walmart has not yet named a successor for Quinn and just recently named the successor for Duncan MacNaughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer, who exited the company in November 2014. Steve Bratspies was recently promoted to the role of chief merchandising officer role in the same release announcing Holley’s retirement.
Most of the U.S. management team has been reshuffled over the past year as Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran took over from the departing Bill Simon. He revamped the merchandising and operations teams and now with the retirement of Quinn will likely rework and possibly further streamline the marketing division as well. Multiple sources close to Walmart have confirmed that the retailer will have another round of layoffs among its corporate ranks after the first of the year.
Alan Ellstrand, a corporate governance expert with the University of Arkansas, has said the continued shake up in the corporate ranks is fairly common given the new CEO change for the Walmart U.S. division late last year. He said retailers also typically re-evaluate their management structures every few years in light of the constant changes in the retail industry.
Other key management shifts recently made at Wal-Mart Stores include:
• John Furner, replacing Charles Redfield as chief merchandising officer at Sam’s Club;
• Charles Redfield moved to executive vice president of food for Walmart U.S.; and
• Toby Noiles was hired at Sam’s Club as senior vice president, GMM of grocery and beverage.