Bentonville, AR—What’s arguably the most powerful position in retail will be held by another member of Walmart’s top executive team. The nation’s largest employer said today that Doug McMillon, president/ceo of Walmart International, has been tapped to replace CEO Mike Duke as of Feb. 1, 2014.
Duke, 63, will continue as chairman of the executive committee of the board and remain on as an adviser to McMillon for one year.
McMillon, 47, has spent his whole career at Walmart. He started with the company in 1984 as a summer associate in a distribution center. After studying for an MBA, McMillon returned to Walmart’s Tulsa stores in 1990. He then rose among the ranks, working in various merchandising jobs at Walmart’s U.S. division. He became president/ceo at Sam’s Club from 2006 to 2009. Since 2009, he headed Walmart International, the company’s second largest operating unit.
McMillon, who has been described as a “calm leader,” was believed to have an inside track for the position over Bill Simon, chief executive of the U.S. division.
“Doug is uniquely positioned to lead our growing global company and to serve the changing customer, while remaining true to our culture and values,” said Rob Walton, chairman of Walmart’s board of directors. “He has broad experience — with successful senior leadership roles in all of Walmart’s business segments — and a deep understanding of the economic, social and technological trends shaping our world.”
“McMillon has done just about every job there is at Walmart,” said Joe Feldman, analyst with Telsey Advisory Group. “He’s a good fit culturally and, as a young 47-year-old, there’s an opportunity to be there for a long time,” he said.
In McMillon’s first three years as head of Walmart International, sales rose about 35 percent, compared with 6.4 percent at the U.S. unit.
“McMillon was responsible for the growth area for Walmart—international sales—and that’s why he got the nod,” said Walter Loeb, retail consultant. In his first three years at Walmart International, sales rose about 35% compared with a more modest 6.4% at Walmart U.S.
“McMillon’s tenure at all three divisions— U.S., international and Sam’s Club— was a key to his hiring because in a sense it was training for the CEO job,” David Schick, an analyst for Stifel Financial Corp., wrote today in a note to clients.
Walmart plans to name McMillon’s successor as chief executive of Walmart International by the end of its fiscal year, January 31. Cathy Smith, who is chief financial officer at the international division, is seen as a likely pick.