Rob Walton, chairman of the Wal-Mart board of directors and son of founder Sam Walton, has announced the surprise departure of CEO Lee Scott (pictured) after nine years at the helm. Mike Duke is promoted to succeed Scott who will continue serving as chairman of the executive committee of the board.
“This management change occurs at a time of strength and momentum for Wal-Mart,” said Walton, referring to the latest earnings figures released earlier this month that showed sales were up 7.5% on the same period last year.
“We are also pleased that our succession and management development process continues to develop leaders internally,” he continued.
Walton reserved special praise for Scott, who he said had made an “extraordinary contribution” to Wal-Mart during his almost 30 years of service.
“Lee has led Wal-Mart with humility and grace, and has been a worthy successor to his predecessors, Sam Walton and David Glass,” he said.
“He has earned the respect and affection of our associates around the world, and of the Walton family. My dad would have been proud of Lee and his accomplishments. We are pleased that Lee will serve as an advisor to Mike for a period of time, much as David Glass did for Lee.”
Scott said it had been an honour to serve as the CEO of the company. “It has been a privilege to lead the company Sam Walton created, a company that continues to live the mission and culture he established,” he said.
His successor was described by Walton as being highly respected both inside and outside the company. “He understands retail and appreciates the complex global environment in which we operate. He is committed to the culture of Wal-Mart, its mission, and to our associates and customers.”
For his part, Duke said he was “looking forward to leading this great company,” over which he will assume leadership on 1 February 2009.
“Wal-Mart is very well positioned in today’s economy, growing market share and returns, and is more relevant to its customers than ever. Our strategy is sound and our management team is extremely capable,” he said.
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