Wal-Mart’s Reputation Management Chief Dach to Leave in June

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT)’s reputation management chief, a former Democratic strategist, is leaving in June, the company said yesterday in a memo.

Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs Leslie A. Dach, 58, has been responsible for public policy, government relations, corporate communications and sustainability initiatives. Wal-Mart is searching for a successor, Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke said in the memo to employees. The announcement came as U.S. regulators continue to probe allegations of bribery in Wal-Mart’s Mexico operations.

Dach, who commutes weekly between his Washington home and the company’s Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters, told Duke that now is the “right time” to leave, Duke said in the memo.

When Dach’s appointment was announced in 2006, observers including Patricia Edwards, then a money manager at Wentworth, Hauser & Violich, said Dach would help Wal-Mart augment its image. At the time, critics said the company needed to improve working conditions for its employees -- complaints still voiced by union-backed groups such as OUR Walmart.

Before joining the world’s largest retailer, Dach held senior positions in Democratic presidential campaigns and handled work for the Clinton administration, according to his bio page on Wal-Mart’s website. He has served on the government- relations staffs of the National Audubon Society and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Edelman Connection

Dach was also vice chairman of Edelman, a global public relations firm, where his work included leading Wal-Mart’s corporate social responsibility division. He has been a special assistant to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee and sits on the World Resources Institute board.

“Leslie has played a pivotal role in helping us understand the broader role Wal-Mart can play in meeting the major challenges facing society today, and social goals are now an integral part of how we run our business,” Duke said in the memo. He cited Dach’s work in the areas of hunger, nutrition and women’s economic empowerment.

Dach was unavailable for comment, Brooke Buchanan, a Wal- Mart spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Dach’s is the second executive-level departure to be announced in as many weeks. Tom Mars, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Wal-Mart U.S., will leave March 13 after 11 years with the company.

Corporate Image

Dach led efforts to improve Wal-Mart’s corporate image through environmental and anti-obesity initiatives and others aimed at making the company seem “more worker- and women- friendly,” Faye Landes, an analyst at New York-based Cowen Group Inc., said in a note.

Dach was a frequent participant at analyst meetings, where “he convincingly documented the company’s improved standing in consumers’ eyes,” Landes said in the note.

Wal-Mart rose 0.3 percent to $73.03 at the close yesterday in New York. The shares have gained 7 percent this year through yesterday, compared with an 8.8 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

To contact the reporter on this story: Renee Dudley in New York at rdudley6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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