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Walmart Shakes Up Merchant Ranks: Report

BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Walmart’s top merchant has suddenly left the company and the executive responsible for merchandising CE, entertainment, toys and other hardlines has been shifted to food.

The shake-up, reported by the Wall Street Journal based on a leaked memo and confirmed by a Walmart spokesperson, came days before the biggest shopping period of the year.

The moves also came one week after Walmart trotted out the executives — former chief merchandising officer Duncan Mac Naughton and newly named food executive VP Steve Bratspies — for a pre-holiday press gathering at a Walmart store outside Manhattan, underscoring the swiftness of the actions.

According to the memo, Mac Naughton, a five-year veteran of the discount chain, resigned “to pursue new opportunities,” effective immediately.

The newspaper cited sources suggesting he left after being passed over for the position of Walmart U.S. president/CEO last summer. The top post went to former Walmart Asia head Greg Foran, a New Zealander with no U.S. market experience who’s been tasked with boosting domestic sales and store traffic.

“I would like to use his opportunity to get closer to the merchandising organization,” Foran said in the memo.

The spokesperson minimized the impact of the reorganization on Walmart’s fourth-quarter performance, telling the Journal that it holiday plans have been in place for months and are now being executed by operations staff.