By Phil Wahba and Siddharth Cavale
Dec 10 Wal-Mart Stores Inc on Tuesday
said the head of its Canadian division would take over the
retailer's international unit next year, succeeding Doug
McMillon, who was named CEO of the company last month.
David Cheesewright, who also runs Wal-Mart's Europe, Middle
East and Africa (EMEA) operations, takes the job at a time when
Walmart International's profitability lags that of the overall
company, and the unit is the focus of a costly bribery probe.
Cheesewright, 51, is credited with bringing the supercenter
format to Canada and overseeing the integration of the Massmart
acquisition in Africa and the Netto acquisition in Britain,
where he started his Walmart career in 1999.
"We view Cheesewright as a natural choice for the job given
the breadth and depth of his experience with Walmart
International," Cowen & Co analyst Faye Landes wrote in a note,
calling him a "one-man SWAT Team" for the unit.
Cheesewright will assume his new position on Feb. 1, the
same day McMillon takes the CEO post.
The British executive will continue to have a home in
Toronto and will maintain a residence in Bentonville, Arkansas,
where Wal-Mart is headquartered, a spokesman said.
Cheesewright is not the only Briton in the top ranks of the
world's largest retailer. Earlier this year, it promoted Judith
McKenna, the chief operating officer of its Asda unit, to the
role of executive vice president of strategy and international
development at Walmart International.
It is the second time in a month that Wal-Mart has promoted
an insider to a top job. Two weeks ago the retailer announced
McMillon would succeed Mike Duke as CEO.
Cheesewright faces a number of big challenges. For one,
Walmart International's profitability has been hurt by its
aggressive expansion. Last quarter it contributed 28.8 percent
of overall sales but only 23 percent of operating income.
Wal-Mart is now scaling back its expansion in key markets.
It is closing about 50 underperforming stores out of hundreds it
has in the major emerging markets of Brazil and China, the
company said in October.
Walmart International is the company's second-largest unit,
after its U.S. operations, and had sales of $135.2 billion in
2012. It has over 800,000 associates in the international
division, the spokesman said.
On Cheesewright's watch, Wal-Mart undertook its biggest
expansion in Canada in 2012 after almost 20 years in the market,
with new supercenters aimed in part at keeping rival Target Corp
at bay. But last quarter Wal-Mart's Canadian comparable
The integration of Wal-Mart's 2012 acquisition of South
Africa's Massmart chain is proving to be challenging because of
the difficult economy there.
Cheesewright also will have to manage the fallout from a
U.S. Department of Justice probe into whether Wal-Mart paid
bribes in Mexico to obtain permits to open new stores there, and
whether executives covered up an internal inquiry into the
The department is also looking into possible misconduct by
the world's largest retailer in Brazil, China and India.
Wal-Mart is also conducting an international probe. It has so
far spent $300 million on the investigations and changes to its
The company is paying for lawyers to represent more than 30
of its executives involved in a foreign corruption
investigation, according to people familiar with the matter, an
unusually high number that shows the depth of the probe.
Cheesewright's successor as Canadian chief will be named at
a later date, the company said.
Wal-Mart's shares were down 0.9 percent Tuesday afternoon.