By Sarah Nassauer
Walmart Inc. chief merchant Steve Bratspies is leaving the company as the country's largest retailer shakes up its executive ranks following the crucial holiday season.
Mr. Bratspies has been the company's chief merchandising officer for more than four years, a key role that oversees product selection and pricing in its U.S. stores, according to the company.
He will be replaced by Scott McCall, another company veteran, who recently has overseen the company's U.S. entertainment and toys business.
The retailer also named Dacona Smith as chief operating officer for the Walmart U.S. unit, according to the memo, filling a role that had been vacant since the former COO Judith McKenna became head of Walmart's international division in 2018. Mr. Smith has worked for Walmart for 30 year, the memo said, most recently as COO of the company's Sam's Club chain.
In a statement, Mr. Bratspies declined to discuss his plans after 14 years at Walmart, saying "it's time for a new challenge."
Walmart often makes major executive changes before the end of its fiscal year on Jan. 31. This year's shuffle follows the exit of the head of its U.S. business, Greg Foran.
Mr. Foran said in October he would leave on Jan. 31 to take over as chief executive of Air New Zealand Ltd. The New Zealand native led a turnaround in the company's U.S. business by pulling back on store openings and investing to remodel existing stores. He was replaced by former Sam's Club chief John Furner.
The company's chief merchant for its U.S. e-commerce operations Ashley Buchanan left Walmart last month to become chief executive of craft retailer Michaels Cos.
Walmart is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter results -- including holiday sales -- in February. The retailer has been riding a streak of strong sales in its home market. Several other chains, including Target Corp., have warned of lackluster holiday sales. Target blamed weak sales of toys and electronics for its shortfall.
Target also recently has revamped its top ranks. The company replaced its chief stores officer Janna Potts with company veteran Mark Schindele on Wednesday and named two executives -- Christina Hennington and Jill Sando -- to fill a void created in November when Mark Tritton resigned as chief merchant to take over as CEO of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.
U.S. government data showed strong consumer spending for the month of December, with retail spending, excluding autos and gas, rising 0.5% from a month earlier.
Write to Sarah Nassauer at email@example.com