The Supply Side: Walmart U.S. undergoes more management shifts

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 349 views 

Editor’s note: The Supply Side section of Talk Business & Politics focuses on the companies, organizations, issues and individuals engaged in providing products and services to retailers. The Supply Side is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by Propak Logistics.
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Just one month into Walmart’s new fiscal year the retailer is shaking up its operational management team with moves of more than a dozen executives outlined in four internal memos to employees last week. Details were recently obtained by Talk Business & Politics.

A majority of the management changes are among merchants (buyer supervisors) within Walmart, and thus the moves will be most felt in the supplier community.

The promotions and executive shifts are part of the strategy of Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran to improve store performance.

“Over the last 18 months, we have aligned on a business strategy committed to sustainable growth. This strategy has four key pillars: Winning with Stores, Delivering Value, Being Great Merchants and Providing Convenience. The LEGACY Initiatives will continue to be how we deliver on this plan. The talent moves included within this announcement are evidence of our further commitment to this plan and position us for success in this new year,” Foran noted in his “aligning to win” internal note.

The merchandising division of Walmart U.S. is where the majority of promotions and management shifts are occurring under Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S. As the retailer continues to focus on food for revenue growth many of the changes are in this important division which is now being led by Charles Redfield.

“Food is the largest part of the business, and we remain extremely focused on providing a great experience in Fresh,” Bratspies’ noted in his note. “It’s important to our customers, and it’s important to the business. We need to be able to make more progress faster. In order to do that, we are going to better align our talent to our strategy, so we’re making some changes in the Food division.”

SupplysidelogoPropakShawn Baldwin was promoted to senior vice president of produce and global food sourcing after previously serving as senior vice president of fresh. Baldwin, like Redfield, previously worked at Sam’s Club. Kerry Robinson, who has been a divisional merchandise manager, was promoted to senior vice president of bakery deli.

In the global sourcing area, Dorn Wenninger is the new vice president of global food sourcing for Latin America, and Jeff Thorpe will replace Tom Leech as vice president of global food sourcing for North America. Leech is no longer at Walmart. Wenninger and Thorpe now report to Shawn Baldwin. Also reporting to Baldwin will be produce merchandise managers Mikel Hankco, Laura Himes and Michael Cochran, and senior director of global food sourcing planning David Storms.

Al Dominguez moved to senior vice president of adult beverage after serving in a similar role over snacks and beverages. Scott Neal was named senior vice president of meat quality control and meat sourcing strategy. Reporting to Neal will be Chuck Tilmon, vice president of quality control, and Denise Wright, senior director of protein sourcing.

Ashley Buchanan has shifted to senior vice president of packaged goods. This move aligns snacks, beverage, dairy and deli under one office. Reporting to Buchanan are the divisional merchandise managers Julie Barber for snacks, Zach Simpson for beverages, John Laney for breakfast and baking, and Silvia Azrai Kawas in dry grocery.

There were also a few management shifts in general merchandising which are led by executive vice presidents Andy Barron, Michelle Gloeckler and Scott Huff.

Scott Bayles was promoted to the role of vice president for stationery and will continue reporting to Terry Price, the senior vice president of hardlines. Steve Ronchetto was moved to vice president cook and dine from a similar role in toys. He reports to Scott McCall, senior vice president for home and seasonal.

Marcus Osborne is the new vice president of health and wellness and reports to George Riedl, senior vice president in that area. Osborne’s new position will focus on driving the strategic vision, business development and key initiatives aimed at transforming the retailer’s health and wellness business.

Navin Chander was promoted to the vice president of the merchandising project management office after serving as senior director of merchandising operations. Blake Hilliard shifts to merchandising solutions as a vice president after working in that same role in merchandise planning. Hilliard and Chander report to Scott Huff.

Judith McKenna, chief operating officer for Walmart U.S., announced that Mark Ibbotson is now the executive vice president of central operations for Walmart U.S. He was previously the senior vice president of innovations for since joining the U.S. team from ASDA in 2014, where he was chief operating officer, and where he also worked with McKenna in that grocery business.

Latrice Watkins returned to Walmart U.S. to help McKenna “build operations experience upon her successful career in senior roles” in merchandising, real estate and the global people divisions for Walmart, noted McKenna’s March 4 email. Watkins is now a senior vice president in operations reporting to Mike Moore.

Jesica Duarte appointed to the role of vice president of Neighborhood Market format development reporting to Julie Murphy who serves as president of Neighborhood Markets. Duarte previously served as chief merchandising officer for Walmart in Chile.

Tony Rogers, the new U.S. chief marketing officer, promoted Kirsten Evans to senior vice president of corporate marketing. Evans, who joined Walmart in 2006 after more than three years of marketing work with Frito-Lay, was the senior vice president and divisional merchandise manager in grocery.

“Her expertise and background in Merchandising and Marketing will be a tremendous asset to us as we connect with our customers in new ways, and as we partner closely with other areas of the business,” Rogers noted in his internal note.

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