BENTONVILLE, AR -- As it enters a fiercely competitive holiday season, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced this week that its board of directors elected company veteran Doug McMillon, 47, to succeed Mike Duke, 63, as president and chief executive, effective Feb. 1.
McMillon previously served as chief executive of Walmart International, the same position Duke occupied prior to stepping into the top spot. Duke will continue serving as chairman of the board's executive committee and stay on as an advisor to McMillon for one year. McMillon was also elected to the board effective immediately.
The move comes as the mega-retailer has seen lackluster profits in its domestic stores with disappointing earnings and sales results for the second consecutive quarter. According to Wall Street analysts, growth has been sluggish on the domestic side while Walmart International sales grew 4.1% on a constant currency basis, and operating income expanded by 8%. Domestic comparable store sales declined in the third quarter and are expected to be flat during the current period.
"The opportunity to lead Walmart is a great privilege," McMillon said. "Our company has a rich history of delivering value to customers across the globe and, as their needs grow and change, we will be there to serve them. Our management team is talented and experienced, and our strategy gives me confidence that our future is bright. By keeping our promise to customers, we will drive shareholder value, create opportunity for our associates and grow our business."
McMillon assumes leadership of the retail giant as it battles Wall Street expectations for increased profits, as well as a host of domestic and international issues from all sides of the political spectrum. Walmart has continued to come under fire for its low wages that drive many of its employees to seek both charitable and government assistance, a bribery scandal in 2012, and the recent announcement that it would offer full-time associates the opportunity to cover any spouse or domestic partner regardless of gender.
As America's largest private employer, Walmart has more than 1.3 million workers in more than 4,000 stores. Often seen as a retailing bellwether and aggressive competitor to small businesses, the organization has undergone an enormous expansion over the past several decades.