John Furner to Succeed Greg Foran as Walmart US President/CEO

John Furner to Succeed Greg Foran as Walmart US President/CEO
John Furner

Walmart has revealed that Sam’s Club President and CEO John Furner will become the president and CEO of Walmart U.S., effective Nov. 1, succeeding Greg Foran, who held the role for five years. Furner will report directly to Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon.

Foran, who will become CEO of Air New Zealand Ltd., is remaining with Walmart through Jan. 31, 2020, to ensure a smooth transition.

“John has done a fantastic job at Sam’s Club, and he will continue the momentum we have in Walmart U.S.,” McMillon said. “John knows our business well, having held many different jobs in the company over more than 25 years, and he is helping transform it for the future. He has the experience and judgment to know what we should continue doing and what we should change. He embraces technology and new ways of working, and he keeps our customers and Sam’s Club members at the center of everything we do, while delivering results for the business. I look forward to seeing his impact for our customers and associates in Walmart U.S.”

Furner began at Walmart as an hourly associate in 1993, working part-time in the garden center of a Supercenter. He rose through the ranks, taking on various front-line leadership positions, and later became a store manager, district manager and buyer. Furner has held leadership roles in operations, merchandising and sourcing in Walmart U.S., Sam’s Club and Walmart International, where he worked at Walmart China as chief merchandising and marketing officer. Before being named Sam’s Club CEO in 2017, he was chief merchandising officer for the club store division.

Furner will work with Walmart U.S. Ecommerce CEO Marc Lore, who also reports to McMillon, to offer a seamless omnichannel experience for Walmart’s U.S. customers. (For insight on what to expect from Furner, check out Retail Leader's coverage, "The digital-first CEO transforming Sam's Club.")

“I’m grateful for this opportunity and ready to get started,” Furner said. “There’s no better place than Walmart U.S. to touch the lives of millions of customers and associates. Together with the team, we will build on the progress under Greg’s leadership and continue to make Walmart an even better place to work and shop. I also want to thank the Sam’s Club team. My years with you have been amazing.”

“Greg Foran has made a huge difference for Walmart, and we are grateful,” McMillon added. “He built a strong plan from the beginning to strengthen the U.S. business – a plan that made significant choices around investing in wages and benefits for associates and investing in price for customers. Greg’s ability to innovate, whether it’s making our stores a competitive advantage in an omnichannel environment or equipping associates with next-generation technology and training, has helped position us for the future. The results have been impressive – every quarter he led Walmart U.S., it has had positive comps. Before leading us to a stronger position in the U.S., he did the same thing in China. We will miss Greg and thank him for his leadership. He has made a difference for our customers, associates and shareholders.”

“It has been an honor to lead the team at Walmart U.S.,” said Foran, a native New Zealander who has been CEO of Walmart U.S. since August 2014 and first joined the mega-retailer in October 2011. “I’m proud of what we’ve been able to achieve at a unique moment for retail and want to thank the associates who made it happen. It is bittersweet to leave Walmart, but this incredible opportunity to lead an iconic Kiwi brand was one I could not pass up, and I’m looking forward to this next chapter.”

Foran’s impending exit may not be completely without drama, however: as reported by Business Insider, Lore acknowledged the “frustration and tension” between him and Foran, even addressing it during a live interview at Recode’s CodeCommerce Conference in New York last month.

“Greg’s a great operator, and they’re generating a lot of cash,” Lore noted at the event. “Over on the ecommerce side, we’re investing in it, we’re losing money, and we’re taking a bet on the future. A lot of the time, those don’t mesh as seamlessly as you might hope they would.” 

He was quick to note, though, that what Business Insider called the “diversity of thought” the two experience as they work to integrate brick-and-mortar and digital operations “is actually good and … not unhealthy in any way.”

Lore’s own five-year commitment to Walmart ends in 2021.

The company will reveal Furner’s successor at Sam’s Club at a later date.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, and ecommerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. The company is No. 1 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.

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