Logistics pro replaces Wal-Mart CEO Scott
Wal-Mart Stores unexpectedly announced Friday that Lee Scott will retire Feb. 1 as chief executive officer and the board of directors named Mike Duke, head of Wal-Mart’s International division, to replace him.
Duke, 58, has led Wal-Mart’s international rebound since taking over in 2005. The company now has more than 3,200 stores in 14 countries outside the United States with sales nearing $100 billion this year. He was instrumental in getting Wal-Mart’s foothold in India. He is also responsible for Wal-Mart’s global procurement organization.
During his 13-year tenure at Wal-Mart, Duke has headed several divisions, including logistics, distribution and U.S. operations. Logistics and distribution are at the heart of the company’s cost and efficiency advantage.
Scott, 59, has led Wal-Mart for nine years, during which time the company launched initiatives in radio frequency identification technology for tracking pallets, sustainable business practices such as reducing energy consumption, ethical sourcing and product safety standards, and minimizing packaging.
He will stay on as chairman of the company’s executive committee. Scott began his 30-year career at Wal-Mart as an assistant logistics director.
Wal-Mart has outperformed its rivals in the past year as customers seek discounts during tough times. The retail giant said Thursday its net profit for the August-October quarter rose 9.8 percent to $3.1 billion on sales growth of 7.5 percent to $97.6 billion. Scott placed the company on a transformation path in 2005 after critics complained about weak stock prices, overexpansion, impact on local businesses, and treatment of workers. The company has partially rehabilitated its public image by using its clout as the world’s largest retailer to push “green” business practices that reduce waste and offering low-price pharmaceuticals.
Wal-Mart is still known for achieving low prices by getting suppliers to cut their prices, but now is recognized for working to help suppliers cut costs rather than simply squeezing them on price.
The board of directors also approved the promotion of Eduardo Castro-Wright, 53, to vice chairman of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., effective immediately. In addition to his current responsibilities as CEO of Wal-Mart U.S., Castro-Wright will assume management responsibility for the company's Global Procurement operation.
The retailer said it will announce Duke’s replacement by the end of the year. ' Eric Kulisch