A new team for the New Year
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — As Walmart’s U.S. stores division looks to execute a broad slate of initiatives in the coming year to recharge domestic growth, it does so under the leadership of a new chief executive and a restructured merchandising organization.
If those words sound familiar it’s because the names, strategies and structure at Walmart tend to change fairly often. So much so that adjusting to shifting personnel and priorities at Walmart was ranked second only to growing sales in a Walmart supplier survey conducted by Connecting Northwest Arkansas, a sister publication of Drug Store News. A total of 139 suppliers, based primarily in Northwest Arkansas, that are responsible for their companies’ business with Walmart participated in the survey. Roughly half said they had worked with Walmart for 12 years or more, providing a sound historical footing for their perspective of change.
The change they have seen lately is somewhat of a novel approach for Walmart, and a function of the retailer’s circumstance and size. The merchandising organization now is directly overseen by Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon, who has four EVPs of merchandising reporting to him. For most of the past 15 years, Walmart functioned with an executive in the role of head merchant or split merchandising responsibilities among two EVPs.
However, the new structure was put in place several months ago following the promotion of former COO Bill Simon to the position of divisional president and CEO, and the subsequent departure of former chief merchandising officer John Fleming. As a result, Walmart now essentially has four head merchants, and the crew is a mix of two veteran Walmart executives and two others who obtained the bulk of their experience elsewhere.
Falling into the latter camp is Duncan MacNaughton, EVP health and wellness and Walmart.com. He joined the company’s Canadian division in 2009 as head merchant before moving to the U.S. division a few months ago to assume his current position. MacNaughton’s name is familiar in the health-and-wellness world due to his lengthy track record with Supervalu, Albertson’s, H-E-B and Kraft Foods.
Reporting to MacNaughton are Scott Huff, SVP consumables; John Agwunobi, president and SVP health and wellness; and Scott McCall, SVP health-and-wellness merchandising. Also reporting to MacNaughton are Steve Nave, SVP Walmart.com, and Phillip Freehling, senior director of planning, pricing and modular development.
Another fairly recent addition to the merchandising group is Jack Sinclair, EVP food, who joined Walmart in early 2008 after spending the bulk of his career in senior positions at such U.K. food retailers as Safeway and Tesco.
The group is rounded out by Walmart veterans Andy Barron and John Westling. Barron serves as EVP softlines and joined Walmart in 1993. He is responsible for the apparel and home areas, and has spent his entire 18-year career in the merchandising area.
The veteran of the group is Westling. He serves as EVP general merchandise and replenishment. He joined Walmart in 1988 as an hourly employee and held a variety of positions before becoming a VP/DMM in 1998. He became SVP/GMM consumables in 2001, EVP merchandising operations in 2007, and assumed his current position this year.
Changing Channels — Hot products outside of food, drug and mass
NEW YORK — Sagging, the practice of letting one’s pants hang slightly below the waist in a way that exposes the underwear, is a fashion trend that has inspired heated debate of a sort unseen since the mink stole, pitting supporters of free expression against those who see it as indecent exposure. Like fur, it likely will stick around for some time, so inventor Andrew Lewis has taken the pragmatic route with Subs, launched by Hatch Ventures. Subs work like suspenders or garters, holding pants up so that they don’t fall down too low and inhibit wearers’ ability to walk and climb stairs. Subs retail for around $34.95, and products also come packaged in kits.
BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — It may be stay- indoors season now, but spring will arrive in a few months, bringing Americans out for camping, fishing and other outdoor activities. United Spirit of America has unveiled Basic Edition, a line of personal care products designed for outdoor enthusiasts, military and law-enforcement personnel. The products make personal care easy while delivering protection against sun exposure, insects and germs. Products include a combination shampoo, body wash and shaving lather; a sunscreen spray that also acts as an insect repellant; anti-fungal foot powder; and anti-bacterial gel. Prices range from $1.99 for the antibacterial gel to $8.99 for the foot powder.
SAN ANTONIO — It’s common for parents washing babies’ cloth diapers to end up with an un- pleasant ammo- nia smell, but Texas-based Rockin’ Green has created a way to get rid of the scent. Funk Rock is designed to eliminate the ammonia smell that emanates from cloth diapers in half an hour or less. The product uses a natural ammonia-busting compound that eliminates odors with a few tablespoons. Funk Rock also works on odors from pets’ urine. It is available in 9-oz., one-month supplies for $12.95.
NEW YORK — It’s hard to convince most small children that medicine will help them when it tastes positively vile, but one doctor who encountered this dilemma with his two small children created Sippy Sure, a sippy cup that mixes medicine with more palatable beverages. The cup, launched by Iatrical Innovations, works by keeping the medicine and the beverage separate, but mixing them together when a child drinks from it in a way that will administer the medicine without the child detecting it. The cup retails for $8.99.
Dollar General raises guidance after strong Q3
GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. — Dollar General reported that its third-quarter net income was $128 million, or a diluted earnings per share of 37 cents.
Excluding a net loss of $8 million ($5 million after income taxes) relating to the early repayment of certain long-term obligations, net income for the 2010 third quarter was $133 million, or a diluted EPS of 39 cents, a 76% increase over net income of $76 million, or 24 cents per diluted share, in the third quarter of fiscal 2009.
The boost prompted the company to raise its full-year adjusted earnings per share guidance to the range of $1.78 to $1.81, Rick Dreiling, chairman and CEO said.
Net sales for the quarter increased 10.1% to $3.22 billion in third quarter 2010, compared with $2.93 billion in the year-ago period. Same-store sales increased 4.2% in the 2010 quarter and 9.2% in the 2009 quarter, with customer traffic and average transaction amounts contributing to the same-store sales increases in both periods.