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Walmart Realigns Grocery Leadership Team


Hungry to beef up its all-important grocery business, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is reorganizing its food division leadership team, beginning with the retirement of Jack Sinclair, EVP of the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer's U.S. grocery division.

The executive changes under way at Walmart – which were relayed to the retailer's U.S.-based associates on March 13 and undersigned by Greg Foran, president/CEO, Walmart U.S.; Steve Bratspies, EVP, food, Walmart U.S.; and Michelle Gloeckler, EVP, consumables and health and wellness – are part of a larger strategy the company is pursuing to improve the quality, consistency and presentation of its fresh food categories, specifically produce, meat and refrigerated.

To that end, Sinclair, who has served as EVP of the U.S. grocery division since 2007, will retire on March 20. Having joined Walmart from McCurrach, a U.K.-based field merchandising business, Sinclair led all aspects of the mega-retailer's grocery merchandising at more than 4,000 U.S. stores after a 25-year career in food retailing in the U.K.

"In his more than seven years with the company, Sinclair has made a significant contribution to the growth of our business, having achieved this through significant market share gains," according to the Walmart associate memo, which further praised his role with creating the "strong foundation for the future growth of fresh foods, private brands and the execution of locally-relevant assortment. We would like to thank Jack for his contributions to responsible sourcing in food over the past few months."

In addition to Sinclair's impending departure, other grocery division executive changes at Walmart, which were confirmed with Progressive Grocer by John Forrest Ales, Wal-Mart's director of corporate communications, include:

  • Tony Airoso, currently SVP, dairy and fresh business model strategy, will transition to SVP, global food sourcing – West and dairy upstreaming. Airoso's new responsibilities will include leading strategy on Walmart's work to help drive sustainable advantages and cost savings. Airoso will relocate to California and report to Tom Leech, SVP, global food sourcing.
  • Carmen Bauza, SVP, health and wellness, will serve in the newly-expanded role of SVP, household chemicals, paper goods, baby, over-the-counter and optical, reporting directly to Michelle Gloeckler. Bauza will oversee a diverse category mix that generates approximately $34.9 billion in revenue.
  • Debra Layton, SVP, layouts and space productivity, will lead Walmart's Better Buying initiative and will also report to Gloeckler. In this role, Layton and her team will lead an important part of Walmart's merchandising strategy that will focus on improving purchasing methods and processes.

With fiscal year 2014 sales of $473 billion, Walmart employs more than 2 million associates worldwide and serves more than 250 million customers who visit its 11,202 stores under 71 banners in 27 countries, along with its e-commerce websites in 11 countries.


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