Latriece Watkins has replaced Charles Redfield as Walmart chief merchandising officer. Redfield, who was with the retail giant for more than three decades and chief merchant for about a year, announced his departure last month.
Amid a shuffle of leadership in 2020, Watkins was promoted to executive vice president of the important consumables category.
Before that she led merchandising for baby, beauty, pets and various household and personal care product lines, according to her LinkedIn.
Watkins has climbed the corporate ladder at Walmart, starting her two decade-long career there as an intern in real estate while she was still in law school, according to an internal memo from Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner.
“Luckily for us, she decided to build a career at Walmart and has served in a variety of key leadership roles within merchandising, human resources and store operations,” Furner said in the note to employees, which was emailed to Retail Dive by a company spokesperson.
Watkins’ team drove sales gains “through supplier partnerships, increased innovation, and improved customer experiences,” Furner said. She has also “focused on leveraging our company’s strengths and expertise to increase racial equity within the criminal justice system” as part of the company’s Shared Value Network team.
After these various leadership roles at Sam’s Club and Walmart U.S., she is now chief merchant at a retailer that remains a sales leader in key categories including apparel, grocery and consumer products. She will be the first woman and person of color to take the job, according to Bloomberg.
“Those of you who have worked with Latriece know she is a merchant at heart and has a talent and passion for developing future leaders,” Furner said. “Her enthusiasm, talent and deep experience helped establish the omni merchandising strategy we have today, and her focus on customers and members will only strengthen our position in the future.”
Watkins takes the job as Walmart scrambles important aspects of its merchandising strategy, especially in apparel. The company in recent months has stepped up the unwinding of its online DTC portfolio. The company this year sold outdoor e-retailer Moosejaw to Dick’s Sporting Goods, casual menswear brand Bonobos to Express Inc. and WHP Global, and plus brand Eloquii to FullBeauty Brands. The brands were among the few left after Walmart sold or shut down other e-commerce ventures.