January 17, 2020 1:45 PM, EST

Walmart Shuffles Leadership as Nervous Investors Await Results

WalmartPatrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg News

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Walmart Inc.’s new U.S. chief wasted no time putting his stamp on the unit, appointing his former top lieutenant as second in command and parting ways with the retailer’s head of merchandising.

Dacona Smith, a company veteran who most recently served as chief operating officer for Walmart’s Sam’s Club, will become chief operating officer under John Furner, according to a memo seen by Bloomberg News. Steve Bratspies, who ran the retailer’s merchandising unit for nearly five years, will leave the company and be replaced by longtime executive Scott McCall, the memo showed. The company also named its first chief product officer in Meng Chee, who joins from JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The world’s largest retailer typically makes leadership moves in January, in the weeks before its fiscal year ends. The rejig, which sent Walmart shares down nearly 1%, will focus more attention on the company as it prepares to report its fourth-quarter results on Feb. 18. All eyes are on Walmart after a slew of lackluster holiday results from retailers including Kohl’s Corp., Target Corp. and J.C. Penney Co. If Walmart follows suit, that will raise more concerns about the health of the American consumer.

Walmart ranks No. 4 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in North America.

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