Beginning next month, Walmart will have new leaders in place at a range of key posts, including a new chief operating officer and a new chief merchant at Walmart U.S. as well as a new COO at Sam’s Club.
Walmart said in a company memo that Dacona Smith, COO of Sam’s, is slated to take the reins as COO of Walmart U.S. on Feb. 1. With the move, Lance de la Rosa, senior vice president of operations at Sam’s, is being promoted to executive vice president and COO at Sam’s.
Also moving up is Scott McCall, senior vice president for entertainment, toys and seasonal at Walmart U.S., who has been named chief merchandising officer of Walmart’s U.S. business. He takes over from Steve Bratspies, who has left the company, according to Walmart.
Dacona Smith, the new Walmart U.S. chief operating officer. (Images courtesy of Walmart)
The leadership changes were among a flurry of executive appointments announced in the Jan. 17 memo from John Furner, Walmart U.S. president and CEO; Suresh Kumar, Walmart’s global chief technology and development officer; Marc Lore, Walmart U.S. eCommerce president and CEO; and Kathryn McLay, Sam’s Club president and CEO.
"Dacona is a widely respected leader who is known for his passion for taking care of customers and associates and his consistency of execution,” the executives said in the memo.
Smith, a 30-year Walmart veteran, has served as Sam’s COO since last March. Before coming to the warehouse club chain, he held nearly every role in operations leadership at Walmart U.S., including market manager in northern Nevada, regional general manager (RGM) for all Walmart stores in Nevada, RGM for North Texas, senior vice president for the Central Division and SVP for the West Division.
At Walmart U.S., Bratspies served as chief merchant for four-and-a-half years and had been with the company for 14 years.
Taking over as Walmart U.S. chief merchant will be Scott McCall.
“As chief merchandising officer, he has been a critical part of the transformation of our business — improving our food offerings, leaning into digital tools and fueling our growth through great merchandise — and his work on pricing has made a meaningful difference in the lives of our customers. Steve is ready for a new challenge, and we wish him all the best,” the memo said.
McCall, with over 25 years at Walmart, served in a operations role before shifting to the merchandising side, where he held a variety of positions — including as a buyer in lawn and garden; divisional merchandise manager in hardware and toys; and general merchandise manager in such areas as consumables, health and wellness, and home — before his current posts as SVP of entertainment, toys and seasonal.
“Scott is a world-class merchant who understands our customers and the ways they want to shop with us. Scott will report directly to John [Furner],” executives commented in the memo.
De la Rosa brings ample leadership experience in operations to his new role as Sam’s Club COO, according to Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart. His 30-plus years at the retailer include serving as RGM for the Northeast at Walmart and, at Sam’s, as SVP of the East Division and then as SVP of operations transformation.
“In his role leading merchandise execution, Lance has been an integral part of getting Sam’s Club back to the warehouse model,” executives said in the memo. “His operations, merchandising and overall retail experience will serve him well in this new role.”
Lance de la Rosa (left) succeeds Dacona Smith as COO at Sam's Club.
Also at Walmart U.S., Kelvin Buncum is being promoted to executive vice president of Walmart Neighborhood Markets. He currently serves as RGM for the North Georgia region. In addition, Latriece Watkins is being promoted to EVP of consumables after holding various merchandising roles at Walmart and Sam’s Club, including in adult beverages, snacks and beverages, and consumables and OTC.
Joining Sam’s Club next month will be Vinod Bidarkoppa as SVP of technology. He brings nearly 25 years of global technology experience, most recently as SVP of technology at UnitedHealth Group. He also previously served as group technology executive and divisional chief information officer at U.K. grocer Tesco.
The memo also announced appointments in Walmart’s customer organization, including a newly created position.
Meng Chee, digital chief experience officer at JPMorgan Chase, is joining Walmart as its first EVP and chief product officer, reporting to Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside.
“This new role will focus on delivering outstanding customer experiences and leveraging today’s technology to do it,” executives said.
And Alex Kreuger, SVP of operations at Walmart.com, has been named SVP-Voice of the Customer. The memo said Kreuger, who oversaw e-commerce fulfillment centers in the supply chain arm, to lead an expanded customer care organization, with responsibility for all customer care touchpoints.
All executive changes go into effect on Feb. 1, except the start dates for Chee (Feb. 3) and Bidarkoppa (Feb. 5), Walmart said.