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Walmart Reshuffles Operations Execs

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has made a series of executive moves within its U.S. operations, realty and innovations groups in tandem with the impending retirement of its eastern division EVP Joaquin Gonzalez Varela and the departure of Pam Kohn, EVP of realty.

Highlights of the executive realignments, which follow the mid-March realignment of its grocery leadership team, include:

  • Joaquin Gonzalez Varela, EVP-Walmart East, will retire June 15.
  • Mike Moore, EVP-Walmart U.S. Neighborhood Market, has been named EVP for Walmart's U.S. Supercenter business
  • Julie Murphy, EVP-Walmart West, has been named EVP, Neighborhood Markets-Walmart U.S.
  • Pam Kohn, EVP-Walmart Realty, will leave the company June 2.
  • The Walmart U.S. realty team will now report to Judith McKenna.
    • JP Suarez, SVP, real estate strategy, design and construction, has been named SVP of Walmart Realty.
  • Mark Ibbotson, SVP, innovations, Walmart U.S., will have an expanded role as SVP of Central Operations-Walmart U.S.

Store Operations

Joaquin Gonzalez Varela, who will retire as EVP-Walmart East on June 15, worked across several divisions, including operations, merchandising, logistics and finance throughout his 25-year career. He joined Walmart’s U.S. operations in 2008 after holding a variety of positions with Walmart de México. In his current role, Gonzalez Varela set the strategic direction of growth opportunities, including execution of store innovation, supply chain, real estate and people development of the 2,100 Supercenters of Walmart East.

According to an internal memo, Gonzalez Varela's retirement will provide the world's largest retailer with "the opportunity to simplify our leadership structure and our business. We’ll continue to strengthen our focus on our customer and retail fundamentals by streamlining the leadership of our Supercenter and Neighborhood Market businesses."

To that end, Mike Moore will lead Walmart's Supercenter operations as EVP, Supercenters-Walmart U.S., while Julie Murphy will lead its Neighborhood Market operations as EVP. The company memorandum praised Moore and Murphy, both of whom will report to Judith McKenna, for being "outstanding leaders whose long-term experience within Walmart operations has equipped them to take on these expanded roles."

Walmart Realty

Pam Kohn, EVP-Walmart Realty, will leave the company on June 2. As the head of Walmart's expansive real estate division, Kohn, who joined the company in 2002, led a portfolio of more than 4,500 stores, totaling more than 1 billion square feet of retail space. In addition to expanding the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer's sizable footprint, Kohn "ensured Walmart positively impacted communities, generating jobs and economic growth," according to the internal memo. "Throughout her Walmart career [Kohn] has held key leadership roles in global supply chain, Neighborhood Markets, store operations, merchandising and global food sourcing." Prior to joining the retailer's real estate team, Kohn served as EVP, merchandise services for Walmart U.S., where she led replenishment, merchandise execution and small formats.

Under the realigned Walmart U.S. realty team, JP Suarez, who will assume leadership of Walmart Realty as SVP, joined the company in 2004 as VP and general counsel for Sam’s Club. Previously holding leadership roles in Walmart U.S. and Walmart International, Suarez has led real estate growth strategy while facilitating efficiencies. Accordingly, the company said, "His contributions to the success of the organization over the last two years have readily equipped [Suarez] to lead the team through our next phase of growth."

Central Operations

As part of its ongoing efforts to simplify its business, the retailer is also expanding the functions of its innovations team to focus on improvements and efficiencies in its stores under a new central operations division to be led by Mark Ibbotson.

In his newly created SVP of Central Operations role for Walmart U.S., Ibbotson will take on the additional responsibilities of asset protection and partnering with global e-commerce to implement grocery home shopping within operations. "Centralizing these activities within one team will further align and simplify efforts that affect our stores," read the internal memo, which noted that under Ibbotson's "leadership, we’ll continue our tremendous progress with our focus on the customer."

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