The past 30 days have been extremely frenetic for Wal-Mart. The world’s largest retailer announced that company veteran Doug McMillon, 47, currently CEO of Wal-Mart International, will succeed Mike Duke, 63, as president and chief executive officer, effective February 1, 2014. McMillon was also elected to the company’s board of directors, effective immediately.
Additionally, Wal-Mart cut the ribbon on its first two Washington, DC stores on December 4 and, based on the opening few days, business is booming.
As for the leadership change at the large retailer, which operates more than 11,000 stores worldwide, employs approximately two million associates and rang up sales of $466 billion last year, speculation about Duke’s retirement has been rampant for most of 2013. Many industry analysts thought McMillon, who began with the Bentonville, AR retailer as a summer associate in a Wal-Mart distribution center when he was 18, and Bill Simon, current president and CEO of Wal-Mart’s U.S business, who joined Wal-Mart in 2006, would be the chief contenders for the top job.
“This leadership change comes at a time of strength and growth at Wal-Mart,” said Rob Walton, chairman of Wal-Mart’s board of directors. “The company has the right strategy to serve the changing customer around the world, and Doug has been actively involved in this process. The company has a strong management team to execute that strategy.”
Walton continued, “Doug is uniquely positioned to lead our growing global company and to serve the changing customer, while remaining true to our culture and values. He has broad experience – with successful senior leadership roles in all of Wal-Mart’s business segments – and a deep understanding of the economic, social and technological trends shaping our world. A merchant at heart, Doug has both a long history with our company and a keen sense of where our customers globally are heading next. He has also shown strong leadership on environmental sustainability and a commitment to using Wal-Mart’s size and scale to make a difference in the lives of people, wherever they might be.”
“The opportunity to lead Wal-Mart is a great privilege,” McMillon said. “Our company has a rich history of delivering value to customers across the globe and, as their needs grow and change, we will be there to serve them. Our management team is talented and experienced, and our strategy gives me confidence that our future is bright. By keeping our promise to customers, we will drive shareholder value, create opportunity for our associates and grow our business.”
“Mike put in place the building blocks for the next generation Wal-Mart and today the company is stronger, more global and more unified across all our stores, mobile and online,” said Walton. “He also reinvigorated the productivity loop and delivered strong financial performance. During his tenure the company made critical investments in talent and technology to expand Wal-Mart to even more customers globally and stepped up its progress on social and environmental issues. Mike also has a strong commitment to diversity, and has been especially engaged in advancing women throughout organization. He set a tone at the top to never be satisfied, to always accelerate and do better, while remaining true to the culture that has been core to the company’s success.”
“This is a great company and it has been an honor to help advance Sam Walton’s vision of giving people around the world a better life,” said Duke. “Our associates make it all possible and I’ve learned so much from them. No matter where I traveled, our associates continued to inspire me with their commitment to living our values, serving our customers and taking care of each other.”