BENTONVILLE, Ark.—John Fleming, who helped lead Walmart on an unsuccessful trade-up strategy and then refocused the merchandising on value, is leaving the company, effective Aug. 1.
Fleming, who has been chief merchandising officer, will be succeeded on an interim basis by two executives. Jack Sinclair, executive vice president and general manager, grocery, will oversee food and health and wellness merchandise. John Westling, executive vice president, planning, pricing and replenishment, will oversee general merchandise and replenishment.
Fleming was originally in charge of marketing for the giant retailer and initiated a campaign to focus more on an upscale fashion image. That proved unsuccessful and he was then moved over to merchandising where under his leadership Walmart refocused its strategy around low prices and value merchandise.
That was enormously successful during the downturn in retail over the past two years although more recently Walmart has suffered as consumers have begun to loosen up their purse strings again.
Fleming’s announcement comes just three days after the news that chief operating officer Bill Simon would take over as president and CEO of U.S. operations, succeeding Eduardo Castro-Wright who shifted to lead the retailer’s e-commerce unit Global.com and its global sourcing division.