Judith McKenna to Retire as Walmart International President & CEO

Sam’s Club U.S. President & CEO Kath McLay chosen to succeed her
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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Judith McKenna

In a memo to all associates, Walmart Inc. President and CEO Doug McMillon revealed that Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International, will retire “following an incredible 27 years with the company.” McMillon went on to share that upon McKenna’s retirement, Kath McLay will succeed her, while Chris Nicholas will take over McLay’s position as president and CEO of Sam’s Club U.S. These leadership changes will take effect on Monday, Sept. 11. 

McKenna was CFO of Walmart’s business in the United Kingdom and advanced to the role of COO of Asda before moving to Bentonville, Ark., where she led strategy, real estate, mergers and acquisitions, and other areas for the International segment. From there she led the Neighborhood Market business and Walmart’s early work to transition to an omnichannel business as chief development officer of Walmart U.S., before she was promoted to COO. In that role, McKenna played a key part in bolstering the Walmart U.S. business, shaping its e-commerce offering and digital transformation by guiding the online grocery pickup business.

[Read more: "Walmart Names Its 1st-Ever Chief Belonging Officer"]

In his memo, McMillon also noted how she prioritized associates as COO. “Judith put the phrase ‘Our people make the difference’ back onto our store associate badges to remind everyone how essential associates are to our success,” he pointed out.

Almost six years ago, McKenna was tapped to head up Walmart’s International business, in which she and her team led a multiyear transformation that resulted in the segment delivering more growth and stronger financial results across the board. According to McMillon, she will remain with the company post-retirement until Jan. 31 of next year to help ensure a smooth transition and to continue serving on the Walmex, Flipkart and PhonePe boards.

After roles in strategy and supply chain, McLay, who joined the company in 2015, led the Neighborhood Market business before becoming the president and CEO of Sam’s Club U.S., where she and the team delivered 12 consecutive quarters of double-digit sales growth. McLay spent the early part of her career working at Woolworths and Qantas in her home country of Australia. 

“She prioritized a member-centric culture, the improvement of our merchandise quality and an expansion of our omnichannel capabilities,” McMillon said in his memo. “She’ll do a phenomenal job leading our International business.” 

Nicholas, who succeeds McLay, is currently Walmart U.S. COO, in which role he has led the store and supply chain team and helped develop a strategy to create a more intelligent and automated end-to-end supply chain. He was previously CFO of the Walmart U.S. and Walmart International businesses. Nicholas moved to the United States to work at Walmart after holding merchandising and finance roles in seven countries while working for Tesco, Salling and the Coles group in Australia.

“Chris has a passion for the development of our associates and for serving our customers,” observed McMillon. “He’ll bring this passion to Sam’s Club, and I know he will do an exceptional job.” 

Additionally, Kieran Shanahan will succeed Nicholas as EVP and COO – Walmart U.S. Shanahan’s most recent role was that of EVP, international operations, and regional CEO for Walmart International. In this position, he led performance and strategy for Massmart and Chile, and was the operating partner for Canada. He additionally oversaw the technology, operations, marketplace, real estate and supply chain teams for International. Before that, Shanahan was EVP and chief growth officer of Sam’s Club, in which role he was responsible for membership, marketing, data monetization, developing future revenue streams and driving convenience as the differentiator for members. This news was revealed in a memo to all associates from John Furner, president and CEO – Walmart U.S.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites in 20 countries. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named it one of its Retailers of the Century. Walmart’s Sam’s Club division, operating nearly 600 clubs in the United States and Puerto Rico, is No. 8 on The PG 100.

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