Wal-Mart Marketing Chief Quinn Is Stepping Down in January

  • Executive will retire after 10 years at the retail chain
  • Michael Francis, former marketer at Target, will be consultant

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Quinn plans to retire at the end of January after almost a decade leading marketing at the world’s biggest retailer.

Wal-Mart is in the process of looking for a replacement for Quinn, 56, according to Greg Hitt, a spokesman for the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer. In the meantime, Wal-Mart has brought on former Target Corp. marketing executive Michael Francis to serve as a consultant.

Wal-Mart is struggling to pull out of a U.S. sales slump, putting more pressure on marketing to attract customers, especially higher-income shoppers. Wal-Mart said in October that profit would fall as much as 12 percent next year, sending the shares on their biggest decline in 27 years.

“The company needs to more narrowly focus on fewer, but the most meaningful, businesses in its mix,” Michael Exstein, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG, said in a report. “The changes in marketing revealed seem to be just another piece of the puzzle that the company appears to be trying to navigate.”

The stock has fallen 31 percent in 2015, the first down year for the stock since the U.S. recession ended in 2009. The stock dropped less than 1 percent to $59.36 in New York on Friday.

‘Live Better’

Quinn led the company’s rebranding in 2008 and helped develop the current logo and slogan, “save money, live better.” Before joining Wal-Mart in 2005, he spent 13 years at PepsiCo Inc., where he was the chief marketing officer for the Frito-Lay North America division. He has also worked at Quaker Oats, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble Co. and Nortel.

Francis, meanwhile, helped Target attract more aspirational customers with its designer collaborations while he was chief marketing officer there. After leaving Target in 2011, he worked at J.C. Penney Co. and most recently as global brand officer for DreamWorks Animation.

“Francis was most known for his association with Target, where he was head of marketing in its ‘cheap chic’ heyday,” Exstein said. “Francis’s era at Target was at the dawn of social media and in a period in which mass media was more impactful and less fragmented than it is now.”

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