Walmart names new real estate executive

Karen Roberts replaces Eric Zorn

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Karen Roberts was named EVP and president of Walmart Realty on Friday, filling a position vacated by the company’s long-time real estate executive Eric Zorn, who retired after a 20-year career.

Roberts most recently served as SVP and chief compliance officer, but she began her career at the company in 1995 as realty manager, and went on to hold the positions of VP and general counsel for real estate and construction. She will report to Tom Mars, EVP and chief administrative officer, whose responsibilities were expanded to include oversight of real estate in the wake of Zorn’s retirement.

“Karen will work closely with Eric to ensure a seamless transition of leadership in this extremely important and complex area of our business,” Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon said in an internal memo.

Filling Robert’s role in the compliance area is Phyllis Harris. She was named SVP and chief compliance officer, and first joined the company in 2006 as VP for environmental health and safety compliance. Prior to Walmart, Harris served as the deputy assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., where she directed the development and execution of national enforcement and compliance assurance programs.

During his tenure at Walmart, Zorn worked in and presided over a real estate organization that facilitated a retail expansion program unlike anything the industry had seen before or since. “As president of Walmart Realty, Eric led the function to represent the largest real estate company in the world with a portfolio close to 1 billion sq. ft.,” Simon said. “The more than 3,000 stores and clubs we opened during his tenure have resulted in thousands of jobs in local communities, continuing our mission to save people money so they can live better.”

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