Walmart’s United States division has a new president and CEO.
The retail giant announced on Thursday that Greg Foran, who served in the post for five years, has stepped down to accept the role of CEO at Air New Zealand Limited. John Furner has been appointed in his place and will report directly to company president and CEO Doug McMillon. Furner will take the helm on Nov. 1, while Foran will stay on through Jan. 31 to ensure a smooth transition.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity and ready to get started,” Furner said in a statement. “Together with the team, we will build on the progress under Greg’s leadership and continue to make Walmart an even better place to work and shop.”
Here’s what you need to know about the new Walmart U.S. leader.
He has held a variety of jobs at Walmart for more than 25 years.
In 1993, Furner started with Walmart as an hourly associate, working part-time in the garden department of a supercenter. Today, the 45-year-old executive boasts a miscellany of jobs at the big-box retailer: From that initial role, he worked his way up the ranks to become a store manager, district manager and buyer. Those were followed by leadership roles in operations, merchandising and sourcing at Walmart U.S., Sam’s Club and Walmart International, where he was named Walmart China’s chief merchandising and marketing officer. He also served as chief merchandising officer at Sam’s Club.
He has served as CEO at Sam’s Club since February 2017.
Furner’s stints at Walmart allowed him to climb the ladder at Sam’s Club, leading up to 2017 when he became CEO of the membership-only wholesale club. In the company’s full-year 2019 earnings call in mid-February, McMillon noted that Sam’s Club’s comps gained 5.3% during the fourth quarter while e-commerce sales grew 27% to end the fiscal year on a high note. During Furner’s tenure, the warehouse chain also announced the closures of more than 60 underperforming stores — or 10% of its brick-and-mortar fleet — in an effort to better compete with rivals like Costco.
He takes over as Walmart makes tweaks to its e-commerce operations.
As part of his new role, Furner will work closely with Walmart US e-commerce CEO Marc Lore, also reporting to McMillon, with a focus on beefing up the company’s omnichannel strategies. Furner, who helped establish the “scan and go” system at Sam’s Club, is tasked with spearheading technologies at Walmart U.S., which is currently undergoing changes in its e-commerce business. The retailer announced last week that it was selling women’s apparel company ModCloth and revealed plans to lay off dozens of employees on Monday.
His appointment comes at a turbulent time for retail.
In recent years, the retail sector has seen a spate of brick-and-mortar closures amid rapidly changing consumer trends, growing competition from e-commerce players. (Walmart’s second-quarter earnings, however, painted a rosier picture for the sector; its earnings and sales topped analysts’ expectations and led to a hike in its full-year guidance.) Industry leaders are also feeling political pressure — with Walmart making what could be considered one of its boldest moves this year through sweeping gun policy changes in response to August’s shootings at two of its stores. In a memo sent to employees, McMillon explained his decision to exit the handgun business in the U.S., reducing its market share of ammunition from around 20% to a range of about 6% to 9%.
His base salary will be $925,000.
According to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Furner will take home a salary of nearly $1 million when he moves into the CEO role at Walmart U.S. next month. He is also eligible for an annual cash incentive based on performance criteria, with his target cash incentive payment being 180% of his base salary and a maximum possible payout of 225% of that pay. As part of the company’s management incentive plan, Furner could also receive an annual equity award.
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