Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart has restructured its merchandising and marketing functions to better align its merchants with key product areas and customer segments, the company announced today.
Under the new organizational plan, former marketing chief and Walmart.com head John Fleming is moving over to the product side as chief merchandising officer, with direct responsibility for the retailer’s entertainment, home, apparel and grocery groups. He will also oversee two newly created units focused on “the customer experience” and planning, pricing and replenishment.
Fleming’s marketing duties have been assumed by Stephen Quinn, who is being promoted to executive VP/chief marketing officer from marketing senior VP.
Also, Doug Degn, who oversaw Wal-Mart’s CE business as executive VP of food, consumables and hardlines, will retire within the next few months after helping the merchandising operation transition to the new structure. No CE successor was announced.
Eduardo Castro-Wright, president/CEO of Wal-Mart Stores U.S., described the reorganization as the second phase of a three-year plan to increase the company’s sales and profits by becoming “more relevant” to the retailer’s various customer segments. The company began by conducting extensive research last year to determine what mattered most to its customers and also implemented a field organizational structure to facilitate execution of the new merchandising initiatives.
The initiatives have thus far failed to energize Wal-Mart’s same-store sales results, and the company has been criticized for disenfranchising its core lower-income customer base by up-scaling its product mix too quickly, particularly in apparel. In CE, the assortment expansion has yielded Panasonic and Hitachi plasma displays, Apple iPods, Sirius and XM satellite radios, and other name brand products.
“As we enter year two, our focus will extend to merchandise assortment and marketing execution on the findings we identified in our customer research,” Castro-Wright said. “I have a lot of confidence in the talent now charged with moving the company to the next level.”