Walmart's chief merchandising officer to depart as retailer navigates tough sales environment

Key Points
  • Walmart Chief Merchandising Officer Charles Redfield is stepping down next month.
  • He will stay on as an advisor for the business.
  • Redfield's replacement will be announced soon, according to a company memo.

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Walmart Chief Merchandising Officer Charles Redfield is stepping down next month.

Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said in an employee memo on Friday that Redfield will leave the role on May 1 to spend more time with his family. He will stay on as an advisor for the business. The Wall Street Journal first reported Redfield's departure.

Redfield, a 32-year veteran of Walmart, is leaving as retailers navigate a tougher sales environment. Walmart in February gave a weaker-than-expected outlook for the fiscal year ahead, saying it expects same-store sales for Walmart U.S. to rise between 2% and 2.5% excluding fuel. The company reiterated that forecast at an investor event last week in Tampa, Florida.

CEO Doug McMillon told CNBC that consumers are more price-sensitive, as food, housing and other items cost more because of inflation. That has led to less spending on items like clothing and electronics.

"They just don't have as many dollars to buy discretionary goods," he said. "And a lot of those people bought a lot of discretionary goods during 2020, 2021 — new patio sets, new televisions — they only have to have one. So that mix impact is something we have to manage, and that's one of the reasons why our guidance is the place where it is."

Redfield became Walmart's chief merchandising officer in January 2022, overseeing relationships with suppliers and the company's strategy across categories from food to general merchandise. He started his career at Walmart as a cashier at Sam's Club while attending University of Arkansas and moved up the ranks as an assistant manager there.

Prior to becoming Walmart's chief merchant, he was named chief merchandising officer for Asda, a U.K. supermarket chain that Walmart acquired and later sold, in 2010. He later served as executive vice president of merchandising for Sam's Club and executive vice president of food for Walmart U.S.

Redfield was "a true advocate for the customer," especially as costs have risen, Furner said in the company-wide email Friday.

"Whether they're shopping online or in stores, his focus has been ensuring customers can always find the items they need and want at the lowest possible prices. Especially as inflation started skyrocketing, Charles and team have worked hard with suppliers to lower prices and give value to customers when they've needed it most."

Furner said Redfield's replacement will be announced soon.