Walmart has named Latriece Watkins as its new U.S. Chief Merchandising Officer. She replaces Charles Redfield, who reportedly vacated the role on May 1, though he will remain with the company as an advisor, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Watkins is a 24-year Walmart veteran who has served in multiple roles, most recently as EVP of the U.S. Consumables Division. There, she helped accelerate topline sales through supplier partnerships, increased innovation and improved customer experiences. She also led several strategic initiatives, including the Shared Value Network team, with a focus on leveraging Walmart’s strengths and expertise to increase racial equity within the criminal justice system.
“Those of you who have worked with Latriece know she is a merchant at heart and has a talent and passion for developing future leaders,” said John Furner, President and CEO – Walmart U.S. in commentary emailed to Retail TouchPoints. “Her enthusiasm, talent and deep experience helped establish the omni merchandising strategy we have today, and her focus on customers and members will only strengthen our position in the future.”
In her new role, Watkins will oversee merchandising at the retail giant during a time of economic uncertainty, though Walmart has held strong despite the pressure — total revenue was up 7.3%, comparable sales were up 8.3% and ecommerce sales were up 17% year-over-year for Q4 2022, which ended [PROVIDE DATE].
The retailer also is investing in ways to keep its operations agile. Walmart plans to introduce automation at nearly two-thirds of its stores and aims to have approximately 55% of its fulfillment center volume move through automated facilities by the end of fiscal 2026. This could help unit cost averages improve by approximately 20%, further increasing resilience during a potential economic downturn.
Walmart also is helping shoppers comb through its massive assortment online with a revamped digital storefront. The new homepage features a more product-focused experience, full of imagery and live video and optimized to better bring Walmart’s assortment to life for customers.