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New kid Foran pushes out old guard at Walmart U.S.


By Sandy Skrovan, U.S. research director at Planet Retail

It’s no shock Bill Simon is leaving after not getting the lead role when Mike Duke stepped down as Walmart CEO last year. Simon did a lot of things well during his tenure at Walmart U.S., but we view it as having been difficult for him to have filled Duke’s shoes to become CEO of the largest global retailer without relevant international experience.

Greg Foran is well respected and brings with him a strong background in both grocery and general merchandise. After not getting the top job at Australian market leader Woolworths, Foran went on to join Walmart China.

This isn’t the first time a non-U.S. executive has run the US business. Recall that Eduardo Castro-Wright was at the helm during the tumultuous Project Impact period. What is intriguing though is that Foran is relatively new to Walmart, having only joined the company in October 2011, and as recently as March 2012 was named president & CEO of Walmart China.

“This move demonstrates that Walmart will not rest on its laurels and is definitely open to bringing in fresh blood and new thinking - something we think will serve Walmart US well as it struggles to turn around lackluster performance and jump-start stagnant sales growth.

“Granted, Foran has just stepped into his new role, but we get the feeling Walmart could very well be grooming him for the top job down the line. The next ‘chosen one’ usually needs to run either U.S. operations and/or International as a rite of passage.

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