Manufacturing initiative leader Michelle Gloeckler to exit Wal-Mart for Academy Sports

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 1,411 views 

Michelle Gloeckler, an executive vice president at Wal-Mart Stores, is leaving the retail giant for a chief merchandising officer role at Katy, Texas-based Academy Sports + Outdoors where she will also serve as president for Academy International Limited, a global sourcing entity.

Gloeckler will officially begin work at Academy on Aug. 29, according to a release from the sports retailer.

Gloeckner. 50, is one of the highest ranking females at Wal-Mart where she has worked for eight years climbing to executive vice president and holding the role of U.S. Manufacturing Lead in addition to overseeing the large consumables and health and wellness businesses. Prior to joining Walmart, Gloeckler spent more than 20 years in various roles at Hershey. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication and psychology from the University of Michigan.

“I’m ecstatic to join the Academy Sports + Outdoors team, and I look forward to getting to know our merchant, planning, sourcing and product development team members, along with our vendors and manufacturing partners,” Gloeckler said in a statement. “I believe Academy’s everyday low price approach, community focused stores and the merchandise mix of national and private brands position it uniquely in the industry for future growth and success.”

Gloeckler was among the 2015 FORTUNE magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business list. That same year she also was selected to lead the President’s Global Council on Women Leaders at Walmart.

“On behalf of our more than 25,000 team members, I am thrilled to welcome Michelle to the team,” said J.K. Symancyk, Academy Sports + Outdoors President and CEO. “Michelle is an industry-renowned business driver and broad general manager with experience leading transformation and growth within high-volume, fast-turn, big box retail and CPG companies. Our team will benefit tremendously from her caliber of leadership as we focus on Academy Sports + Outdoors’ future growth.”

Michelle Gloeckler
Michelle Gloeckler

Gloeckler and Symancyk served in June on a retail panel discussion held in Rogers for the University of Arkansas Center for Retail Excellence Conference. Also, Gloeckler and Symancyk voiced ties to the University of Arkansas. Symancyk is a UA graduate and Gloeckler has as son attending UA.

Walmart corporate spokesman Lorenzo Lopez said Cindi Marsiglio will continue as vice president of U.S. Manufacturing and another executive vice president will likely be chosen to oversee the initiative as well.

“We’d like to thank Michelle for her many contributions throughout her eight years of service to Walmart. Michelle joined Walmart in 2009 and held several key roles in Merchandising and made a significant impact on the company,” according to an internal email of Gloeckler’s resignation that circulated through the company on Wednesday (Aug. 3) from the office Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S.

Bratspies’ email noted, “In January of 2013, Walmart announced its commitment to grow U.S. Manufacturing, and Michelle’s responsibilities expanded to lead that effort. Today we have thousands of suppliers selling their American-made products on our shelves and online because of Michelle and her team. Michelle made it a priority to build talent in Merchandising, and she’s leaving a strong organization comprised of talented associates who are well positioned to manage through this change and into the future. As we work through this transition, her leadership team will report to me. I’ve had the privilege of working closely with this team, and I have every confidence their leadership will ensure continuity as we finalize our next steps.”

On the surface it looks as if Walmart’s U.S. Manufacturing Initiative has lost steam in the past 12 to 18 months given the scaled back U.S. Manufacturing Summit held in June in Bentonville.

Lopez said the production side of the U.S. Summit has been scaled back for several reasons, but none of which indicate a lesser level of commitment from Wal-Mart. He said in the early years, 2013 and 2014 there were large U.S Manufacturing Summits because the retailer was casting a wide net to try to enlist economic development teams and other players in the initiative. By year four (2016), he said there were more one-on-one meetings between suppliers and Wal-Mart about U.S Manufacturing than in any of the past years. He reiterated that Wal-Mart is committed and is on track – perhaps ahead of schedule – to fulfilling its $250 billion commitment.