Walmart taps proven operators to boost its health-and-wellness presence

Just two months after Labeed Diab was named head of health and wellness at Walmart, Mark Phillips was elevated to the role of VP pharmaceutical merchandising. Phillips assumes command of more than 4,175 retail pharmacy operations that generates $16.8 billion in pharmacy revenue, according to DSN's PoweRx 50. 

In his new role, Phillips will lead the pharmaceutical merchandising team and report to Diab. Phillips, who most recently served as the senior director of merchandising in small formats, is a long-time buyer for Walmart and may be an indication of Walmart's steadfast commitment to growing pharmacy, health and wellness, especially across Walmart's smaller formats. 

Diab and Phillips will oversee the health side of Walmart's aggressive expansion of small formats that contain pharmacies, as well as the company's recent foray into its own healthcare clinic where Walmart employees pay $4 per visit and the general public $40 per visit. The pharmacy executives will also help link Walmart's health and wellness offerings across formats as Walmart continues to tether its Supercenters, smaller formats and online. "Tethering stores together ... will allow us to not only provide greater access to customers, but use the combination of both digital and physical assets to provide a broader array of services and products," said Jeff Davis, EVP and CFO of Walmart U.S., during the recent Jefferies 2014 Global Consumer Conference. "In the month of May we opened up an Express store that was 'tethered' ... to a Supercenter that was about 30 mi. to 40 mi. away," Davis said. "What customers can do is essentially go into this rural supermarket and have the capability of ordering anything that is in that Supercenter. If they order by noon, they can get it the same day," he said. "At the end of the day, customers in a rural area can have access to millions of items, if you consider everything that is available on dot-com, and they do all this within a 10,000-sq.-ft. facility." 

Or, in other words, the size of a small drug store. 

And Walmart, which already has a solid reputation as delivering EDLP on products is looking to extend that reputation to include services like the clinic concept, Davis said. "We opened up a Walmart Care Clinic in the front of the store in the tentant lease space," Davis said. "We believe this is a great opportunity for us to help manage the rising cost of our health care." Having opened its first in Copperas Cove, Texas, Walmart anticipates opening a dozen of these clinics by the end of the year. Two additional clinics were expected to open at the end of June in Benbrook and Carrollton, according to a Fort Worth Star-Telegram report.

It's not just health and wellness that's getting re-energized with fresh leaders. Walmart recently recast the roles of its top merchants across the organization in an effort to reinvigorate growth. According to an internal memo obtained by DSN sister publication Retailing Today, Walmart chief merchandising and marketing officer Duncan Mac Naughton said he was pleased to announce “a few changes which will help accelerate our growth and efficiency as a world-class merchant organization. Additionally, these moves provide a more specialized service to our customers, while also creating better alignment and a greater visibility across our business.” 



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