Walmart U.S. restructures central operations division

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 6,508 views 

John Furner, CEO of Walmart U.S., announced several management changes in an internal memo issued this past Friday (Jan. 28) including the departure of Mark Ibbotson, executive vice president for central operations and real estate.

Ibbotson has been involved in the transformation of Walmart’s U.S. business over the past five years. He joined Walmart in 2004 through its Asda grocery business in the United Kingdom, where he worked in senior roles including chief operations officer until 2015 when he moved to the U.S.

“Mark has been an important part of the transformation of the U.S. business, helping simplify work for associates and digitize our operations. He helped launch Academies to invest in our associates and online grocery shopping to create a great experience for our customers – both of which have helped position us well for the future,” Furner noted in the email provided by Walmart to Talk Business & Politics.

Furner said he plans to shift some of the duties from central operations to a newly created product team that will report to Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside.

“We are standing up this product team – to be led by Meng Chee, EVP and Chief Product Officer – to design great technology products and customer and associate experiences with the end-user in mind. These Central Operations teams have made strong progress with store innovation, associate-facing technology and the rollout of online grocery pickup and delivery, and we want to see that work accelerate by seamlessly integrating our associate and customer experiences,” Furner stated in the memo.

Furner said Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer product innovation, will move to the new team and focus on omnichannel innovation for customers. Ward also joined Walmart through Asda and worked with Ibbotson in the U.S. for the past four years. John Crecelius, senior vice president of associate product innovation, will also be part of the new team focusing on store process improvements.

Furner said new Chief Operating Officer Dacona Smith will oversee store operations as Todd Harbaugh, head of Supercenters, and Kevin Buncum, head of Neighborhood Markets, will report to him. Joe Schrauder, vice president of asset protection and safety, will also report to Smith.

Walmart will announce a new head of realty at a later date and a new head of operations support, roles that had been filled by Ibbotson. Furner said there are five teams that make up the real estate division. He said the operations support team will be charged with executing key business initiatives at the store level and will have the responsibility for field direction. This organization will have teams led by Davin, Biram, James Gilmore, Lori Bessler, Carols Bacelis and Jessica Huntsman.

Furner said restructuring will also impact the contact center which is led by Steve Welch. The new structure aligns with the customer care team and falls under Whiteside’s oversight. The workforce planning team led by Jeff Gorman will move to the U.S. people team. Gorman will report to Drew Holler, senior vice president of associate experience.

“These changes will allow us to operate more efficiently and with more role clarity, and they will be effective on Feb. 1,” Furner concluded in the memo.

Walmart also continues to streamline other parts of its e-commerce business with a staff reduction of 200 people in the Hayneedle corporate office in Omaha, Neb., and another round of layoffs reported in the Allswell New York City office. Business Insider reported Walmart is cutting between 29 and 56 jobs in the Allswell Mattress operation effective April 24. This cuts the Allswell staff by roughly 50% as Walmart continues to consolidate back-office roles among some of the digital brands it owns by integrating more of the operations into