Wal-Mart Stores on Wednesday said that Judith McKenna has been promoted to COO of Walmart U.S., succeeding Gisel Ruiz, who has been appointed EVP of Walmart International.
The appointments are effective immediately, and continue the rapid churn at the senior levels of the retailer’s U.S. operations. That division, still struggling to keep up the sales pace of competitors like Costco and Kroger, replaced CEO Bill Simon in August, and last month saw chief merchant Duncan Mac Naughton resign amid a merchandising shakeup.
McKenna, who had been serving as chief development officer for Walmart U.S., will report directly to U.S. CEO Greg Foran. McKenna joined Walmart nearly 20 years ago in its Asda division in her native U.K., eventually serving as Asda’s CFO and COO. McKenna also served Walmart International as EVP of strategy and international development.
At Walmart U.S., McKenna’s initiatives included the development of the newly opened Grocery Pickup facility, which was based on Asda’s success operating similar vehicles in the U.K. As chief operating officer, McKenna will lead a team of 1.3 million associates. She will also continue to lead Walmart’s small format stores, development of new formats, expansion of Walmart services and the integration of digital commerce into the retailer’s existing U.S. stores.
“At her core and by experience, Judith is a retailer who has made major contributions to our business throughout her career,” Foran said in a statement. “It’s exciting to bring her skills in managing store operations, small format growth, logistics and e-commerce to an expanded role in our U.S. operations. Her knowledge of global best practices and her success in leading our associates around the world will help drive our Walmart U.S. business forward.”
Ruiz started as a management trainee and gained a depth of experience across key roles in labor relations, operations and human resources. Most recently as COO for Walmart U.S., Ruiz led the retailer’s focus on improving operational efficiencies, opened more than 400 new U.S. stores, and increased representation of women and people of color across operations leadership roles. As EVP of Walmart’s International People Division, Ruiz will be a key member of CEO David Cheesewright’s leadership team.
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“Gisel is an inspirational leader who has consistently contributed to Walmart’s growth and success throughout her 22 years with the company. Her proven track record and unwavering commitment to our associates make her the perfect choice for this new role,” said Cheesewright. “The expertise and leadership that Gisel brings are needed as we take our International Division to the next level. I’m looking forward to the impact she’ll have on our associates and business around the world.”
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