- Walmart's U.S. leadership has gone through a recent shuffling with the departure of chief merchant Steve Bratspies from the company after four and a half years in the position and more than 14 with Walmart, according to a company memo. Replacing Bratspies is Scott McCall, currently Walmart's merchandise manager for toys, entertainment and seasonal goods.
- Additionally, Walmart appointed Dacona Smith, the current COO of its Sam's Club unit, as COO for Walmart's entire U.S. business. According to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the changes, the COO position had been vacant since 2018.
- The retailer also hired Meng Chee, most recently digital chief experience officer for JPMorgan Chase, as Walmart's first Chief Product Officer, reporting to Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside.
Walmart's all-important U.S. business has gone through extensive changes over the past year. Most importantly, the unit last year announced the departure of its top leader when Greg Foran said he would leave the post of CEO of Walmart U.S. to take over a New Zealand airline.
Foran helped lead a critical turnaround period for the retail giant, revamping its strategy and getting serious about digital commerce after sales went into decline mid-decade.
That transition has proven successful as Walmart has posted stellar performance numbers in recent periods and double digit e-commerce growth. But it has not been without growing pains. After ploughing money into the acquisition of Jet.com, and with it co-founder Marc Lore, Walmart has since pulled back on Jet, eliminating its dedicated executive, cutting its marketing and refocusing investments around Walmart's namesake e-commerce site.
It has likewise sold off ModCloth, the vintage-themed clothing site meant through its relatively recent acquisition to help drive customers to the Jet brand. Walmart has also reportedly considered selling off other acquisitions made since Lore took over Walmart's e-commerce business. Bloomberg reported last year that Foran had grown frustrated with aspects of the company's digital efforts under Lore.
Analysts at the time described Foran's departure as a loss but expressed confidence in Walmart's executive bench and the ability of Foran's replacement, John Furner, previously CEO of Sam's Club, to take over Walmart's U.S. business and keep its transformation on track.
In the most recent executive shuffle, Walmart made other appointments as well, including promoting Latriece Watkins to executive vice president of the important consumables category, and of Alex Kreuger to senior vice president overseeing Walmart U.S.'s customer care organization. The company also announced Smith's replacement as COO of Sam's Club: Lance de la Rosa, a 30-year veteran of the retailer.
The chief merchant role at Walmart's U.S. unit is critical as the company continues battling Amazon, Target and everyone else for market share in key categories. Walmart credited Bratspies with "improving our food offerings, leaning into digital tools and fueling our growth through great merchandise — and his work on pricing has made a meaningful difference in the lives of our customers."
McCall, who started with Walmart a quarter of a century ago as an hourly management trainee, executives described in the memo as "a world class merchant who understands our customers and the ways they want to shop with us."