Walmart U.S. streamlines operational divisions, reduces chain of command

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 1,681 views 

Wal-Mart’s more than 4,500 U.S. stores will have a new hierarchy by moving from six divisions to four, all of which will report to Executive Vice President Mike Moore, according to the Bentonville-based retailer.

Wal-Mart is rolling out the consolidation plan and more details will be available next month. The regional store map is also being shrunk from 44 regions to 36 with the change, according to news first reported by Bloomberg. It’s been three years since Wal-Mart last restructured its store operations which was just prior to when Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran took command of the U.S. stores.

Since that time Foran has made several changes to streamline communications and operations across the business which had, he said, become bloated over the years. The new store operations blueprint is a continuation of that agenda.

“As retail and the customer are changing, we’re putting people who are equipped to run great stores and understand, embrace and execute change at an unprecedented rate in the right roles and in the right locations. Our last field restructure was several years ago and our business has changed over that time. The structure we are putting in place will help improve communication and execution, streamline decision-making and help us accelerate our pace of change,” a Wal-Mart corporate spokesman told Talk Business & Politics.

One of the six divisional heads is being transitioned into human resources and another of the positions was recently vacated by Martin Mundo of the Southeastern U.S., who replaced Shawn Baldwin overseeing grocery produce and sourcing. Baldwin was tapped by Charles Redfield, grocery chief, to fill a new role that focuses on Hispanic customers.

Also in August, Julie Murphy, former executive vice president over Neighborhood Markets, transitioned into human resources with Todd Harbaugh now overseeing Neighborhood Markets.

The restructure does not change anything for the stores except the hierarchy in which they are grouped. Each division will have a shorter chain of command reporting to a senior vice president who then reports to Moore at the top of store operations.

In the past 2.5 years, Foran and his management team have in the past almost three years revamped virtually every store process to simplify operations and teach the “one-best-way” practice in an effort to clean up stores, improve in-stocks with less clutter in the aisle and backrooms. Foran also revamped produce areas by adding lower profile displays and trained produce workers to ensure customers have more days to consume the products once they get them home.

Foran also has put more self-checkouts and brought in service helpers to assistant with heavy traffic periods. Pickup towers have been rolled out to 100 stores and grocery pickup is now available in 1,000 stores across the country.

Traffic in stores has increased for 10 consecutive quarters helping to keep comp-sales growth positive. Raymond James & Associates retail analyst Budd Bugatch said the stores look better than they have in a long time and there are plenty of employees to assist customers. He credited Foran’s attention to detail as a veteran operator with much of the success Walmart U.S. is having despite a sluggish retail market for brick and mortar stores.

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