December 10, 2014 / 8:13 PM / 3 years ago

Wal-Mart names new U.S. COO in latest management shuffle

(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc promoted Judith Mckenna, a 20-year company veteran, to the post of chief operating officer in the retailer’s latest reshuffling of senior management under U.S. chief Greg Foran.

A woman shops at Walmart as the store prepares for Black Friday in Los Angeles, California November 24, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn

The move comes on the heels of last month’s departure of the U.S. merchandising chief and a shuffling of other key roles in the United States, where the retailer is attempting to build on a nascent recovery following a nearly two-year slump.

The promotion of McKenna is part of a “changing of the guard” under Foran, who assumed the top U.S. post in August and is under pressure to show results, said Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough.

“It’s not like their business has been good and they’ve been lighting the world on fire,” he said.

McKenna will continue to oversee growth of its small format stores and the integration of e-commerce and store operations, two important tasks that were already under her purview as chief development officer, Wal-Mart said in a release.

McKenna will succeed Gisel Ruiz, who will become executive vice president of the company’s international people division, where she will oversee human resources overseas. The changes are effective immediately, Wal-Mart said.

As COO, McKenna will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of Wal-Mart’s 4,300 stores in the United States and its 1.3 million employees. She will continue to report to Foran.

In past roles McKenna oversaw strategy and development in Wal-Mart’s international division and was COO of the British-based Asda Stores, one of the retailer’s largest overseas subsidiaries.

The changes are occurring in the middle of the key holiday shopping season and with Wal-Mart hoping to build on its performance last quarter ended Oct. 31, when it posted its first growth in same-store sales since 2012.

Foran has indicated he wants to make quick changes to the U.S. operations with a series of “urgent agenda items” that include better stocking of shelves and a bolstering of its fresh food offerings.

Last month Wal-Mart announced that its chief merchandising officer, Duncan Mac Naughton, was leaving the company. Foran shuffled some key operational roles to coincide with Mac Naughton’s departure.

Reporting By Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru and Nathan Layne in Chicago; Editing by Joyjeet Das and Richard Chang

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