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Wal-Mart names Rosalind Brewer CEO of Sam’s Club; first female CEO in company history

Bentonville, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores announced a series of management changes that include an unexpected change in leadership at Sam’s Club, and a new chief information officer. The retailer said it has named Rosalind Brewer as president and CEO of Sam's Club. She is the first woman and the first African-American to hold a CEO position at one of the company's business units.

At Sam’s Club, Brewer is replacing Brian Cornell, 52, who is resigning so that he and his wife can move back to the Northeast for family reasons. His departure comes as Sam’s has experienced strong sales growth. The moves are effective Feb. 1.

"I have felt at home here and have a strong connection to the associates, the company and its values and mission,” Cornell said. “However, after 30 years of asking my family to follow me all around the globe, it is time to put them first. My wife and I want to put down roots in the Northeast and live in the same ZIP code as our children – not just occasionally seeing them in hotels and restaurants."

Brewer was most recently president of the Walmart U.S. east business unit. She was also the first chairperson of the Walmart President's Council of Global Women Leaders. Prior to Walmart, Brewer worked for Kimberly-Clark, progressing through various positions and eventually becoming president of a key business sector in 2004.

"Roz came to us with an outstanding background in consumer packaged goods more than five years ago," said Walmart president and CEO Mike Duke. "During that time I have seen her develop into a talented merchant and retailer. She has strong strategic, analytical and operational skills and has successfully managed a large and complex business. I've also been struck by Roz's servant leadership when I have visited stores with her. She always lets her team do the talking, with her focus being on how to better support their needs."

In other changes, Karenann Terrell, 50, is being promoted to chief information officer for the company, effective Feb. 1. She will be responsible for the company's global technology systems including stores and clubs, supply chain, merchandising and enterprise platforms.

In other changes, Rollin Ford, most recently the company’s CIO, was named chief administrative officer with specific areas of responsibility including the information systems division, global sourcing, global business processes, global shared services and global customer insights. Ford was most recently the company’s chief information officer.

Ford will play an important role in helping the company meet its commitment to reduce SG&A expenses as a percentage of sales by more than 100 basis points over the next five years. Ford will focus on leveraging scale, reducing expenses and increasing productivity around the world.

Ford will be succeeded as CIO by Karenann Terrell, effective Feb. 1. She will be responsible for the company's global technology systems including stores and clubs, supply chain, merchandising and enterprise platforms. Terrell was most recently Walmart's assistant CIO.

Also, Gisel Ruiz, 41, is promoted to executive VP and COO for Walmart U.S., effective Feb. 1. In this position, she will be responsible for the company's U.S. operations, which cover more than 3,800 stores and include Supercenters, discount stores, Neighborhood Markets and Walmart Express formats.

Ruiz was most recently executive VP of People for Walmart U.S. where she was responsible for the human resources and store innovation organizations.

© 2014