Walmart Names New International CEO To Succeed Judith McKenna
Amidst the challenges of global markets grappling with high inflation and China’s economic slowdown, Walmart has elevated Kathryn McLay, the CEO of its Sam’s Club division, to lead its international business.
McLay, a distinguished figure within Walmart’s hierarchy, hailing from Australia and aged 49, will assume her new role on September 11. She will succeed Judith McKenna, who is stepping down after an illustrious 27-year tenure at the company.
In her new position, McLay will be responsible for overseeing an international portfolio encompassing 19 countries, including China.
This comes at a time when China’s economic growth is decelerating, leading to concerns on a global scale, compounded by declining hypermarket sector sales due to the shift towards online purchasing.
In key markets like Mexico and South Africa, the repercussions of the pandemic have exacerbated structural issues, dampening consumer sentiment.
Despite the formidable challenges, International, under Judith McKenna’s stewardship, has displayed impressive performance. McKenna’s leadership led to strategic exits from underperforming ventures in Japan, Britain, Argentina, and Brazil.
In the last fiscal year ending on January 31, the division contributed $100.1 billion (€92 billion) in flat sales, representing 17% of Walmart’s total annual revenue.
Notably, the unit’s resilience stemmed partly from robust sales from entities like Flipkart and PhonePe in India, as well as Sam’s Club operations in China.
McKenna, who helmed International since 2018, steered the division through a multi-year transformation, yielding enhanced growth and stronger financial outcomes across the board, as highlighted in a memo by Walmart CEO Doug McMillon.
McLay, who arrived in 2015 and previously held prominent roles within Walmart’s U.S. supply chain operations and neighborhood markets business, took the reins as CEO of Sam’s Club in November 2019.
Under her guidance, Sam’s Club, a competitor to Costco, experienced a turnaround. Following years of sluggish growth, the business recorded positive sales growth in nearly every category over nine consecutive quarters, including the challenging period of the pandemic.
This achievement led to an impressive 12.7% average annual comparable sales growth since McLay assumed leadership of the division.
Walmart’s decision to appoint McLay demonstrates its confidence in her abilities and a track record of success. Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough emphasized the continuity of Walmart’s business outlook and plans under McLay’s leadership.
In conjunction with this change, Christopher Nicholas, the current Chief Operating Officer of Walmart U.S., will step in as the new CEO of Sam’s Club.
McKenna, aged 57, will transition gradually into retirement, scheduled for January 31, 2024. During this period, she will continue contributing her expertise by serving on the boards of Walmart Mexico, Flipkart, and PhonePe.