Walmart has promoted Sam's Club chief executive Kathryn McLay as the new head of its international business, succeeding Judith McKenna, who is retiring. Chris Nicholas will become the president and CEO of Sam’s Club U.S.
Walmart provided the following note from Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart that was sent to Walmart associates announcing the leadership changes:
"I feel a great deal of gratitude today as I share news about a retirement and several promotions. Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International, has made the decision to retire following an incredible 27 years with the company. With her retirement, I’m happy to share Kath McLay will become the president and CEO of Walmart International and Chris Nicholas will become the president and CEO."
McMillon continued, "I’ll start with gratitude for Judith. I first met Judith when she was CFO of our business in the U.K., and I was struck by her combination of intelligence and heart. She went on to become COO of Asda before moving to our home office in Bentonville where she led strategy, real estate, M&A and other areas for our International segment. From there she led our Neighborhood Market business and our early work to transform into an omnichannel business as chief development officer of Walmart U.S., before being promoted to COO. As COO, Judith played an integral role in strengthening our Walmart U.S. business, shaping our e-commerce offering and digital transformation by leading the online grocery pickup business. This was a foundational moment that helped us achieve the omnichannel position we have today. She prioritized our store associates. She listened carefully and acted quickly to make investments in compensation, launch Walmart Academies, introduce new technology for our store managers and make other changes that strengthened the core of the business. Judith put the phrase, “Our people make the difference,” back onto our store associate badges to remind everyone how essential associates are to our success.
McMillon added, "Nearly six years ago, we asked Judith to lead our International business. She and the team have re-architected the segment and led a multi-year transformation that resulted in International delivering more growth and stronger financial results across the board. More importantly, Judith’s leadership has positively impacted countless lives by creating opportunity and showing us how to lead with purpose. Her deep care for our associates around the globe and her passion for developing people has made a difference. Judith will remain with the company until Jan. 31, 2024, to help ensure a smooth transition and to continue serving on our Walmex, Flipkart and PhonePe Boards."
McMillon went on to say, "Judith, we are extremely grateful for everything you’ve done for our associates and for our business. I have appreciated your partnership and have loved watching you lead and make the world a better place through your work. We’re grateful to you, Phil, Alex and Charlie, and we hope the chapters in front of you are full of joy. I’m thankful for the depth of leadership in our company, and I am excited to see Kath McLay step into the role of president and CEO of Walmart International. Kath joined our company in 2015. After roles in strategy and supply chain, she led our Neighborhood Market business before becoming the president and CEO of Sam’s Club U.S., where she and our team delivered 12 straight quarters of double-digit sales growth. She prioritized a member-centric culture, the improvement of our merchandise quality and an expansion of our omnichannel capabilities. Kath moved to the U.S. from Australia to join Walmart after spending the early part of her career with Woolworths and Qantas. She’ll do a phenomenal job leading our International business."
[Read more: Walmart’s CFO to depart]
In announcing Nicholas' appointment, McMillon said, "I’m also excited that Chris Nicholas will become the president and CEO of Sam’s Club U.S. Most recently, Chris has been our Walmart U.S. COO where he has led our store and supply chain team and helped develop a strategy to create a more intelligent and automated end-to-end supply chain. He was previously the CFO of our Walmart U.S. and Walmart International businesses. Chris moved to the U.S. to join Walmart after serving in merchandising and finance roles across seven countries while with Tesco, Salling and the Coles group in Australia. Chris has a passion for the development of our associates and for serving our customers. He’ll bring this passion to Sam’s Club, and I know he will do an exceptional job.
Lastly, McMillon said, "I look forward to working with Kath and Chris in their new roles and am confident they will continue strengthening these businesses while leading with purpose and values. Please join me in congratulating Judith, Kath and Chris."