The founder of Bonobos, Andy Dunn, is leaving Walmart, roughly two years after the company acquired the money-losing online apparel retailer and he joined Walmart to help grow its e-commerce operations.
Dunn said in a LinkedIn post on Thursday that he would be departing in early 2020. He didn't specify where he would be heading next.
"When I joined Walmart in the summer of 2017, my goal was to leave the company better than I found it," Dunn wrote. "What I am certain of is how much I gained from my time at Walmart." (See his full post below.)
Dunn will remain with Walmart through January and will work closely with merchandising and brand leadership to "ensure a smooth and successful transition," a Walmart spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
"After more than two years innovating new, incubated brands and bringing on important acquired brands, as an entrepreneur at heart, Andy Dunn has decided now is the right time to take the next steps in his career," the spokesperson said. "During the last two and a half years, Andy's contributions to the organization have been invaluable. He's been instrumental in building out and growing Walmart's proprietary brand portfolio."
Bonobos, known for its patterned men's shirts and chinos, is one of a handful of digital companies that Walmart has acquired in recent years to try to grow online and compete with Amazon. Others include Jet.com, where Walmart gained the current head of its e-commerce operations in the U.S., Marc Lore; Moosejaw and Art.com. Walmart also acquired women's apparel company Modcloth in 2017. But earlier this year, it announced it would be selling Modcloth to Go Global Retail.
As a result, some view Walmart's acquisition strategy as yielding mixed results. The big-box retailer's e-commerce business is still losing money, and some of its acquisitions, including Bonobos, remain unprofitable, according to a report from Vox.
However, the robust gains in Walmart's grocery business, which is partially online, are helping the company offset some of those losses. And Walmart has learned lessons from these digital-first brands, which has made it a more savvy e-commerce competitor. Walmart's online sales were up 41% in the latest quarter.
More recently, Lore has said Walmart is putting a pause on brand acquisitions and instead will focus on incubating its own brands, internally. Its first is a mattress brand that it launched in 2018 called Allswell.
Walmart shares, which have a market value of nearly $340 billion, have climbed a little more than 28% this year.
Here's the complete LinkedIn post from Dunn:
When I joined Walmart in the summer of 2017, my goal was to leave the company better than I found it. With my last day coming up early next year, it's time to take stock.
It's such a formidable and massive enterprise, it's hard to take measure of such an objective. So much goes into making Walmart work. Individual contributions blur, and it quickly becomes clear that teams are what make the world go round.
What I am certain of is how much I gained from my time at Walmart.
I learned a lot more about retail transformation in the digital age at the world's biggest company. I watched our strategy evolve as we uncorked our unique advantages on a new omni playing field – and began to identify where we aren't just catching up, but where we are winning. The momentum with online grocery pickup opened my eyes: our thousands of supercenters are an asset nobody else has, so let's use them. In our digital brands group, that led to development of a strategy built on omni, as we married our talent with the power of Walmart distribution to build brands like Allswell. With my departure, that incubator will now be plugged directly into the Walmart mothership.
I learned about the enormous power of a culture built with a singular focus: the customer. While I thought I understood it, I didn't. Walmart is obsessed with delivering a better life for its core customers. The motto is everywhere, written in four simple words: save money, live better. That mandate has expanded to saving the customer time. Sam Walton's customer focus is printed indelibly on the company, from the sayings on the walls to the last sentence of the famous Walmart cheer. The more I fell in love with that mission, the more I came to understand what Walmart does in America and around the world as a moral imperative. With this in mind, we acquired ELOQUII, a leading plus size fashion company committed to serving a customer who deserves better.
I learned about courage and leadership. When a mass shooting struck our El Paso store, I saw us take care of our customers and our employees, first, and then make an important move in fully exiting the handgun and handgun ammunition businesses, asking customers to refrain from open carry in stores, and open sourcing our background check capabilities. Overseeing digital brands at the company, I saw how far ahead Walmart is on its sustainability practices. We partnered to deepen the momentum. When I got tapped on the shoulder to join the board of the Network for Executive Women, representing Walmart, I jumped at the chance, and it's been an honor to stop talking, start listening, and do the work of building a more diverse and inclusive future.
It's a testament to what kind of company Walmart is that I entered thinking mostly about what I could offer, and ended up being the one who received so much. When it comes to making the world a better place, the world's largest company is, 57 years later, just getting started. It's a credit to the remarkable teamwork of 2.4 million of the hardest working people on planet Earth, all working together. As Sam said, the fact that we're all in this together is the secret. At Walmart, it's hidden in plain sight.