Wal-Mart names new CEO of U.S. stores

By Reuters
Posted June 29, 2010 at 8:33 a.m.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Tuesday named Bill Simon to run its U.S. discount stores, which have struggled with sluggish sales as their core customer continues to be pressured by high unemployment.

The move allows Eduardo Castro-Wright, who had headed the U.S. unit, to move to California and be with his wife, who is recovering from a heart transplant, Castro-Wright said in a memo to Wal-Mart associates.

Castro-Wright, 55, will continue to head the company’s global e-commerce initiatives and global sourcing, assignments he has had since January.

Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke stressed the need for Wal-Mart to improve its e-commerce businesses and the company has also said the international business would be a key growth engine.

Simon, 50, had been chief operating officer of Walmart U.S. He takes over a business that has seen sales at stores open at least a year fall in each of the last four quarters.

That business has been hurt both by the economy and by Wal-Mart’s own missteps, including a move to pare the number of items carried in Walmart stores. That cost the company sales as shoppers who could not find their favorite items, even if they were not big sellers, did all their shopping elsewhere, Wal-Mart has said. The company has been restoring some items.

Walmart has announced price cuts on thousands of items to try to boost traffic.

Wal-Mart shares fell 61 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $48.96 early Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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