Bentonville. Ark. — Wal-Mart president/CEO Lee Scott will step down, effective Feb. 1, after nine years in the post.
He will be succeeded by vice chairman Mike Duke, who heads Wal-Mart’s international division and had previously run the company’s logistics and distribution operations.
In addition, Eduardo Castro-Wright, president/CEO of Wal-Mart’s United States operations, was promoted to vice chairman of the company and will assume management responsibility for the company’s global procurement operation.
Scott’s last years as chief executive were marked by controversy over Wal-Mart’s stagnant stock price, the treatment of its workers, its dependence on imported products, and a controversial decision to change the retailer’s focus from everyday low prices to more fashion-oriented goods.
The company has since returned to its price-oriented positioning.
In a research note, Banc of America Securities analyst David Strasser said Scott is “walking out a winner.” After riding out Wall Street’s calls for his ouster two years ago, he leaves a “vastly improved company along with a strong management team that is prepared to take Wal-Mart to the next level” — as well as “a legacy of sustainability that will have positive ramifications way beyond Wal-Mart and even the retail industry.”
Scott will remain a company director and head of the board’s executive committee.
In a statement, Wal-Mart chairman Rob Walton said Scott brought “a remarkable focus to our mission of saving people money so they could live better, and a heightened sensitivity to Wal-Mart’s role in the world. The actions taken during his tenure will benefit the company, our associates and our customers for years to come.”
He said the management change comes at a time of “strength and momentum” for the company, and that “the strategy we have in place is the right one for future success.”
Scott’s successor Duke “understands retail and appreciates the complex global environment in which we operate,” Walton said, and has “built strong teams wherever he has led.”
In a statement, Duke said, “Wal-Mart is very well positioned in today’s economy, growing market share and returns, and is more relevant to its customers than ever.”
A successor to Duke’s international post has not yet been named.