BENTONVILLE, Ark. Major restructuring initiatives announced Thursday by Walmart touch nearly every aspect of the company and are intended to created a new organizational framework to drive growth.
The changes were announced in a series of memos posted on the company’s Web site from president and CEO Mike Duke, vice chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright, chief merchandising office John Fleming and coo Bill Simon. According to Castro-Wright, the changes were made because it was time to escalate efforts associated with the company’s Project Impact initiative begun approximately three years ago.
Although most generally associated with a new store prototype, Project Impact encompasses a wide range of initiatives to strengthen price leadership, improve product assortments and upgrade the shopping experience. Those benefits were realized in large part due to improve alignment among its merchandising, marketing and operations group. Now, a similar strategy is now being applied to the Walmart Realty division which will be integrated with store operations and logistics and report to Walmart U.S. COO Bill Simon.
“This move will help facilitate our growth as we seek to enter new markets and develop new segments across the U.S. and will drive efficiency by allowing us to better leverage our resources,” Castro-Wright said. “We are also building a structure that aligns the store planning team with the customer experience team that currently is part of merchandising. This will also support our efforts to accelerate our speed to market with new formats.”
In addition, the company plans to introduce a new field reporting structure that includes three geographic business units in the west, the south and the north. The company’s previous structure consisted of five major regions.
The shift has resulted in several interesting personal moves as Walmart.com president and CEO Raul Vasquez was given the role of an operator with oversight of the Walmart West area. Rosalind Brewer was name president of Walmart South after previously serving as president of Walmart’s southeast division. Hank Mullany, previously president of the Northeast division, is now president of Walmart North. Mike Moore and Michael Lewis, who previously served as senior VP under the five operating region structure, have been given new roles in the merchandising group. Moore is now responsible for automotive, stationery, hardware, fabric and crafts and sporting goods. Lewis will lead the newly created Global Merchandising Center for packaged grocery product.
Another major merchandising change involves Andrea Thomas who will serve as senior VP brand merchandising for home, hardlines and entertainment reporting directly to chief merchant John Fleming. Thomas was previously responsible for private brand management in the marketing group.
Another noteworthy change involves the creation of a new organization called store merchandising execution. It will be led by Andy Barron who has the tall order of designing merchandise strategies for the geographic business units, executing customer focused programs and will report to both Simon and Fleming.