Wal-Mart taps insider to head international division

Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:11pm EST
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By Phil Wahba and Siddharth Cavale

(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: Quote) on Tuesday said the head of its Canadian division would take over the retailer's international unit next year, succeeding Doug McMillon, who was named CEO of the company last month.

David Cheesewright, who also runs Wal-Mart's Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) operations, takes the job at a time when Walmart International's profitability lags that of the overall company, and the unit is the focus of a costly bribery probe.

Cheesewright, 51, is credited with bringing the supercenter format to Canada and overseeing the integration of the Massmart acquisition in Africa and the Netto acquisition in Britain, where he started his Walmart career in 1999.

"We view Cheesewright as a natural choice for the job given the breadth and depth of his experience with Walmart International," Cowen & Co analyst Faye Landes wrote in a note, calling him a "one-man SWAT Team" for the unit.

Cheesewright will assume his new position on February 1, the same day McMillon takes the CEO post.

The British executive will continue to have a home in Toronto and will maintain a residence in Bentonville, Arkansas, where Wal-Mart is headquartered, a spokesman said.

Cheesewright is not the only Briton in the top ranks of the world's largest retailer. Earlier this year, it promoted Judith McKenna, the chief operating officer of its Asda unit, to the role of executive vice president of strategy and international development at Walmart International.

It is the second time in a month that Wal-Mart has promoted an insider to a top job. Two weeks ago the retailer announced McMillon would succeed Mike Duke as CEO.   Continued...

Wal-Mart Canada CEO David Cheesewright poses during an interview in Toronto October 28, 2008. REUTERS/Peter Jones