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Exec, 51, to lead retailer abroad

Cheesewright to head global unit

By Cyd King

This article was published December 11, 2013 at 2:26 a.m.

David Cheesewright, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Europe, Middle East, Africa and Canada operations, will replace Doug McMillon as president and CEO of Wal-Mart International on Feb. 1. That’s when McMillon takes over the company’s top job from Mike Duke.

Wal-Mart went global in 1991, and the international segment is reportedly the retailer’s fastest-growing area, generating nearly 30 percent of its revenue. Its 6,000 foreign stores serve more than 109 million customers in 26 countries every week. Cheesewright has been in his current position since 2011.

“I’m honored to be named to lead our international business at a time when our customers around the world need us more than ever,” Cheesewright said in a statement released by Wal-Mart on Tuesday.

“Through strong capital discipline, we will continue to invest in new stores and ecommerce growth, as well as productivity improvements that drive profitable growth and returns,” he said.

Cheesewright, 51, started with Wal-Mart in 1999 with Asda, the company’s grocery delivery operation in the United Kingdom. He was the chief operating officer for both Wal-Mart Canada and Asda before being named chief executive of Wal-Mart Canada.

“He has a good track record in Canada, bringing the supercenter format to the country,” said Brian Yarbrough, an equity analyst with Edward Jones in St. Louis. Cheesewright also oversaw the Netto acquisition in the U.K. and integrated the Massmart acquisition in Africa.

A recent research note from Edward Jones in St. Louis said Wal-Mart’s long-term growth becomes increasingly reliant upon international expansion. With that, however, comes increased risk and lower initial returns on investment. The international segment has lower profit margins that Wal-Mart’s U.S. business.

Faye Landes, an equity analyst at Cowen and Co., LLC, called Cheesewright a “one man SWAT team.”

McMillon, an Arkansas native, said Cheesewright “will lead the division at an exciting time.”

“We have strengthened our business and gained market share in the majority of our international markets, and he had a key role in that success,” he said.

Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin Gardner said Cheesewright will continue to have a home in Toronto and will maintain a residence in Bentonville.

“He will be in Bentonville regularly, and will, of course, be spending time in our markets across the globe,” Gardner said.

McMillon has been head of Wal-Mart International since February 2009; Duke led the segment from September 2005 to February 2009. The international job was held by John Menzer from 1999-2005 and Bob L. Martin before that.

Business, Pages 25 on 12/11/2013

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