Bonobos founder Andy Dunn will exit Walmart in January, marking an end to the two-year relationship. Dunn, 40, joined Walmart as senior vice president of digital consumer brands in June 2017 as part of the $310 million acquisition of his men’s wear brand Bonobos.
Dunn originally reported to Walmart U.S. CEO Marc Lore, but in June he was redirected to Ashley Buchanan, chief merchant of Walmart U.S. eCommerce, as Walmart sought to consolidate much of the e-commerce leadership teams from Jet and elsewhere. Dunn announced his planned departure in a LinkedIn post he dubbed as a “Love Letter to Walmart.”
“When I joined Walmart in the summer of 2017, my goal was to leave the company better than I found it. With my last day coming up early next year, it’s time to take stock. It’s such a formidable and massive enterprise, it’s hard to take measure of such an objective. So much goes into making Walmart work. Individual contributions blur, and it quickly becomes clear that teams are what make the world go round,” Dunn noted in his post.
Walmart has slowed acquisitions and opted to now focus on growing its own brands within the portfolio. Lore has said the retail giant will continue to re-evaluate its e-commerce brands, and where it makes sense will merge them into Walmart operations and in some cases, like with ModCloth, divest. The retail industry has reported a possible sale of Bonobos in recent months, though Walmart has not confirmed it.
Dunn was seen as a fashion visionary, an area Walmart was hoping to improve as it competes with Amazon in higher-margin categories. Dunn is based out of the New Jersey office of Jet.com and is a New York native.
Walmart circulated a memo regarding Dunn’s departure on Thursday that was provided to Talk Business & Politics. Walmart said Dunn’s contributions have been invaluable. The retailer described Dunn as an entrepreneur at heart who is ready to take the next steps in his career.
“He’s been instrumental in building out and growing Walmart’s proprietary brand portfolio. The DNA of the incubated and acquired brands is now a key part of our strategy and provides us a brand engine we can plug directly into the enterprise. Andy will remain onboard through January and will work closely with Merchandising and brand leadership to ensure a smooth and successful transition,” Buchanan noted in the memo
Dunn said he has learned more about retail industry changes during his short tenure at Walmart.
“I learned a lot more about retail transformation in the digital age at the world’s biggest company. I watched our strategy evolve as we uncorked our unique advantages on a new Omni playing field – and began to identify where we aren’t just catching up, but where we are winning.”
One lesson Dunn mentioned involves courage and leadership. He said when El Paso shootings happened he watched as Walmart took care of customers and employees. Then the retailer looked internally for ways to make a difference opting to exit the handgun and handgun ammo business and asking customers to refrain from open carry in stores. Walmart also began open-sourcing its background check capabilities.
“Overseeing digital brands at the company, I saw how far ahead Walmart is on its sustainability practices. We partnered to deepen the momentum. When I got tapped on the shoulder to join the board of the Network for Executive Women, representing Walmart, I jumped at the chance, and it’s been an honor to stop talking, start listening and do the work of building a more diverse and inclusive future,” Dunn noted.
Dunn did not disclose his future plans.