Wendy future of retail top

Furner set to take helm at Sam’s Club as Brewer exits

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. — John Furner has been named president and chief executive officer of Sam’s Club. He succeeds Rosalind Brewer, who is retiring effective February 1.

Furner has been chief merchandising officer at Sam’s Club, with responsibility for global sourcing, packaging and private brands. He was named to the post in October 2015.
Before that he served as chief merchandising and chief marketing officer of Walmart China, where he was responsible for merchandising, procurement, marketing, supply chain, financial services and mobile commerce for the hypermarket division. He is a Walmart veteran who joined the company as an hourly associate in 1993.

Brewer, who has led Wal­mart’s warehouse club division since February 2012, joined Walmart in 2006 as a regional vice president, overseeing operations in Georgia. She later became division president of the Southeast, and then president of Walmart East.

Prior to joining Walmart, she spent 22 years with Kimberly-Clark Corp. starting as a scientist and eventually becoming president of the Global Nonwovens Sector in 2004.

Brewer said in the fall that improving the experience of members is a centerpiece of the “new path forward” at Sam’s. The company believes that the new direction will bring us “the long-term sustainable growth that we really need for this business,” she said.

“Just like the broader company, we made the decision to significantly invest in people and technology, and we’ve been really pleased with those investments,” Brewer told investors at Walmart’s Analyst Day. “So our strategy is based on one very simple idea, and it’s all around the member. The member must win.”

She said the plan has three pillars: transforming merchandise, growing membership and leading in digital. “Compelling merchandise at a value is what brings our members back to us time and time again, helps them to renew with us and stay engaged,” she said.

Sam’s built its long-term prospects on acquiring new members and retaining them, she added. “And that’s about expanding the spend per ­member.”

Digital technology “is where you’ll see the step change and the step-out for Sam’s,” said Brewer. “We think this is the key differentiator for us. You’ve heard us talk about our innovation and our technology in that space. But underlying all of this is a commitment to elevating the base experience of Sam’s Club, and that’s important for us. When you’ve got a member that has to pay to shop with us, they need something more than your everyday shopping ­experience.”


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