Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is promoting Charles Holley to chief financial officer, replacing Tom Schoewe as the world’s biggest retailer shakes up its executive ranks.
The change takes effect Nov. 30, and Schoewe will stay on until Jan. 31 to assist with the transition, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said today in a statement. Holley, who currently serves as treasurer, joined Wal-Mart in 1994.
Wal-Mart in late June appointed William Simon to replace Eduardo Castro-Wright as U.S. stores chief, and chief merchandising officer John Fleming departed in August. Earlier this month, Simon filled out his merchandising team by naming four executives to handle various product categories.
Holley “was the CFO for a good long run at international, which is the growth engine of the company,” said Ric Comins, managing director and retail practice leader at Philadelphia-based executive search firm Diversified Search Odgers Berndtson. “He had a lot of involvement in the Asda acquisition, which was their most successful.”
The company acquired U.K. retailer Asda Group for about $11 billion in 1999.
Wal-Mart is set to lay out its capital-spending plans for 2011 at an investor conference in Bentonville next month. Some analysts expect the company to discuss progress in developing smaller stores in the U.S. that may penetrate urban markets.
“The problem with Wal-Mart is they have reached the law of large numbers, especially in the U.S.,” said Tim Hoyle, director of research at Haverford Investments in Philadelphia, which has $6 billion under management including Wal-Mart shares. “As a shareholder, we would appreciate more of a focus on dividends. We’ve been concerned with some of their capital allocation decisions.”
Holley, 54, has served in several roles, including finance chief of Wal-Mart’s international division, which now comprises about 25 percent of total sales. He previously worked at companies including Ernst & Young and the predecessor to RadioShack Corp.
He is gaining financial oversight of a company whose sales growth has slowed for three straight years, dragged down by a deepening economic slump and a decision to reduce the number of items on shelves. Sales at U.S. stores open at least a year have declined for five consecutive quarters.
Earlier this week, Wal-Mart said it plans to buy South African retailer Massmart Holdings Ltd. in a transaction valued at about $4.6 billion to gain a foothold in sub-Saharan Africa, where it currently has no stores.
Wal-Mart declined 47 cents to $53.35 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares are little changed this year.
Schoewe, 57, joined Wal-Mart a decade ago after spending 14 years at Black & Decker. Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said neither Schoewe nor Holley was available to comment. Holley’s successor will be named “at a later date,” Tovar said.