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Wal-Mart merchandising chief to resign

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Bentonville, Ark. Wal-Mart Stores on Friday said its chief merchandising officer John Fleming is leaving the company on Aug. 1 after 10 years of service.

Fleming, who has held the position since early 2007, will be replaced temporarily by two executives: Jack Sinclair, an executive VP will oversee food and health and wellness merchandise; John Westling, also an executive VP, will oversee general merchandise and replenishment.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said Fleming is leaving to spend more time with his family.

The announcement came three days after the company announced that COO Bill Simon would take over from Eduardo Castro-Wright as president and CEO of its U.S. operations.

Castro-Wright will lead the retailer's e-commerce unit Global.com and its global sourcing division.

Wal-Mart has benefited as consumers traded down during the recession. But now some wealthier customers are showing signs of trading back up, at the same time as high unemployment and gas prices are still squeezing its main clientele.

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