NEW YORK — Walmart is replacing the chief of its U.S. discount stores in what could be an indication that it’s losing confidence that its largest business unit will rebound after more than a year of disappointing results.
Greg Foran, who was promoted to president and CEO of Walmart Asia earlier this year, will succeed Bill Simon, who had been CEO of Walmart’s U.S. stores for four years, effective on Aug. 9.
The move, which was announced Thursday, marks the company’s first big management shake-up under Doug McMillon, who took over as CEO of Walmart Stores Inc. in February. Foran, 53, will report directly to McMillon.
Simon’s departure isn’t surprising. He had been considered a top candidate for the critical job at the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer and was previously passed over for McMillon. But some analysts question the timing of Simon’s resignation. Walmart, which reports second-quarter earnings results next month, is heading into the two biggest shopping periods of the year: the back-to-school and winter holiday seasons.
“A decision to replace a high-ranking leader of a major retailer before back-to-school and before holidays speaks volumes,” said Brian Sozzi, CEO of Belus Capital Advisors. “McMillon is starting to clean house and pick executives who will move quicker.”
Walmart declined to make either Simon or Foran available for interviews on Thursday. But Walmart spokesman Dave Tovar told The Associated Press that Simon’s resignation was mutual. He said that Simon and McMillon have been having ongoing discussions about Simon’s departure. On July 18, Simon officially agreed to retire.
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