After six straight quarters of traffic declines and five in which same-store sales declined, Bill Simon is out as the president and CEO of Walmart. In an announcement made earlier this morning, the retailer announced it has promoted Greg Foran, a 35-year retail industry veteran who joined Walmart in 2011, to run its most important business unit.
"Greg is one of the most talented retailers I've ever met. His depth of knowledge and global experience will bring a fresh perspective to our business," said Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart, in a statement. "His passion for fresh food, experience in general merchandise and commitment to e-commerce will help us serve our customers even more effectively for years to come."
Mr. Foran held a number of high level jobs at Woolworths, the leading retailer in Australia and New Zealand, before joining Walmart. He has served as president and CEO of Walmart China since March 2012.
Mr. McMillon, doesn't seem concerned with his new hire's lack of experience in the U.S. market.
"I've worked closely with Greg for the past few years and I've seen firsthand his passion for retail. I'm confident that Greg's strong leadership skills and alignment with our culture will serve our customers and associates well," Mr. McMillon said. "I'm excited about what he will bring to this important part of our business."
"The needs of our customers are changing dramatically and we have an enormous opportunity to serve them in new and different ways," said Mr. Foran in a statement. "We must be fierce advocates for our customers, work meticulously to exceed their expectations and earn their trust every day."
Mr. Simon has been credited for advancing Walmart's small format agenda, launching its $4 prescription drug program, and pushing the company's role in bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. He was not, however, able to find a fix for many of the company's problems, particularly significant out-of-stocks in Walmart's stores.
Mr. Simon blamed most of the company's problems on a down economy and cuts to programs such as SNAP for needy Americans.
"People think we do better in a down economy," Mr. Simon told Reuters earlier this month. "We don't. We do better when the GDP is growing, when the economy's good and we really need that in the long run for the business to improve."
Will Greg Foran's lack of experience in the U.S. be a positive or negative as he takes over as the new president and CEO of Walmart U.S.?