Wal-Mart Splits Merchandising, Marketing

Wal-Mart yesterday announced a reorganization of its U.S. marketing and merchandising operations and made formal some personnel shifts rumored with increasing frequency in the weeks following the ouster of Julie Roehm as senior vice president of marketing.

In a move that has been expected, the Bentonville, Ark.-retailer is shifting John Fleming, who had been chief marketing officer, to chief merchandising officer.

Fleming will oversee Wal-Mart's grocery, entertainment, home and apparel divisions. Prior to joining Wal-Mart, Fleming built a stellar reputation at Target, where he ran fashion merchandising. Wal-Mart has admitted recently that its attempts to offer women more tempting apparel--long a Wal-Mart weak spot--have misfired.

The company said Claire Watts, executive vice president of merchandising, will now lead the apparel merchandising area and report to Fleming.

Stephen Quinn, who had been senior vice president of marketing, was promoted to chief marketing officer. Before joining Wal-Mart in 2005, Quinn had been CMO of PepsiCo's Frito-Lay division, and has also worked at Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, and Quaker Oats. Quinn reports to Eduardo Castro-Wright, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores U.S.

The realignment appears to be an attempt to get back to the retailer's ambitious three-year plan to become more relevant to the company's diverse customer segments, creating various "neighborhood" models for different demographics.

"As we enter year two, our focus will extend to merchandise assortment and marketing execution on the findings we identified in our customer research," said Castro-Wright in a statement. "I have a lot of confidence in the talent now charged with moving the company to the next level."