U.S. News

Wal-Mart Shuffles Key Divisions, Shifts Focus Onto Customer Experience

Margaret Brennen

The world's largest retailer gets a merchandising and marketing makeover. Wal-Mart is reorganizing its U.S. marketing and merchandising operations as it works to boost sales after a lackluster holiday season.

Focusing on the customer experience will be Wal-Mart's new priority. It is also in the process of creating new organizations within the company to respond to customer preference found via marketing research.

The executive behind many of those efforts, John Fleming, was named Chief Merchant of the World's Largest Retailer Wednesday. Fleming formerly held the position of Chief Marketing Officer.

Stephen Quinn takes over the marketing role.  He joined Wal-Mart in 2005 as senior vice president of marketing and was previously chief marketing officer of PepsiCo's Frito-Lay division.

The company says the management reshuffling is part of U.S. CEO Eduardo Castro-Wright's previously announced three-year plan to boost sales.

In addition to overseeing the grocery, entertainment, apparel and home divisions, Fleming will now run a new organization focused on the customer experience as well as another new group for planning, pricing and replenishment.

Following a series of high-profile stumbles -- most notably in its apparel division -- and sliding same store sales numbers, Wal-Mart has been focusing on tailoring its shopping experience to regional and demographic customer needs and desires.

With this latest reshuffling of the ranks, Wal-Mart seems to be reaffirming its efforts to reshape the way it sells and presents items to customers. Particular attention will be centered on rejuvenating its clothing division.

The current executive vice president of Merchandise, Claire Watts, will now focus on leading the apparel division and will report directly to Fleming.

The pharmacy and optical division will continue to report to Bill Simon, executive vice president of professional services and new business development.

Doug Degn, executive vice president of food, consumables and hardlines, will retire, the retailer said.