By Sarah Nassauer
Walmart Inc. said the executive in charge of its U.S. stores, Greg Foran, is leaving the company and will be replaced by the head of its Sam's Club warehouse chain.
Mr. Foran, a native of New Zealand, is taking over as chief executive officer of Air New Zealand Ltd. He will stay at Walmart through Jan. 31. He will be replaced by John Furner, 45 years old, who has been running the Sam's Club warehouse chain since 2017.
Mr. Foran, 58, took over Walmart's biggest division in 2014 and led a turnaround in the U.S. by pulling back on new-store openings and investing to improve existing stores.
Mr. Foran is known as a demanding, detail-oriented boss who worked long hours and often took other executives with him on a company plane on Saturdays to visit stores. He has focused on reducing the inventory in stores and more consistently stocking shelves to boost sales, improving customer service, as well as cutting spending on store labor to invest in such new projects as online grocery delivery.
He clashed with the head of Walmart's U.S. e-commerce operations, Marc Lore, over spending and strategy, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Foran didn't return a request for comment. Mr. Lore declined to comment.
Walmart has posted four years of strong sales gains as the retail company captured market share from struggling competitors and expanded online. In August, the company raised its forecasts for U.S. comparable sales for the full year. Its shares are trading near all-time highs.
Walmart gets two-thirds of its $514.4 billion in annual revenue from its roughly 4,700 U.S. stores and e-commerce operations. U.S. stores are also the profit engine of the company as it invests heavily to grow online.
Under Mr. Furner, the Sam's Club business closed 63 stores and cut about 10,000 jobs last year to compete better with Costco Wholesale Corp. The sales at Sam's have grown during his time at the helm, with comparable sales up 1.2% in the most recent quarter.
Like Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, Mr. Furner is a Walmart veteran who joined the company as an hourly store worker and worked his way up the ranks. Mr. Furner's father was a Walmart executive and still works part time at a Walmart store near the company's Bentonville, Ark., headquarters.
Following his exit, Mr. Foran will receive payments totaling $4.8 million through January 2022, according to a securities filing. Mr. Furner's new base salary will be $925,000.
Walmart didn't immediately name a new Sam's Club leader.
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