Walmart CEO plans to stay in role at least three more years
Doug McMillon’s decision to remain in top job extends timeline on search for successor
Walmart Inc. Chief Executive Doug McMillon plans to helm the country’s largest retailer for at least three more years as the company continues work to identify a successor, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr. McMillon, 56, a Walmart lifer who has held the job since 2014, is the company’s fourth CEO since founder Sam Walton. His plans to stay in the role for more than a decade will extend the company’s timeline for finding its next leader, the people said.
In recent years, Walmart has elevated several executives into roles that made them likely successors to Mr. McMillon, including U.S. CEO John Furner, 48, and International CEO Judith McKenna, 56.
Kathryn McLay, 49, the head of Sam’s Club, Walmart’s warehouse chain, is also among those seen as potential candidates, said these people, as well as a more junior generation of executives.
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Mr. McMillon and other top executives don’t have formal employment agreements with the company, Walmart’s securities filings say. He received compensation, including stock awards, valued at $25.7 million for the fiscal year ended January 2022. The company hasn’t yet disclosed pay for the most recent fiscal year.
The Walton family is Walmart’s biggest shareholder, holding about 47% of the stock, according to the company’s 2022 proxy filing. The family holds three board seats, including Chairman Greg Penner, and plays a large role in picking the next CEO. Mr. McMillon’s decision to stay on as CEO is a sign that he and the board are considering the transition carefully at a complex time for the retail industry.
After the company’s founder stepped down as CEO in 1988, each person who has served in the role was an executive who spent many years inside the company in multiple roles.
Mr. McMillon started at Walmart as a teenager unloading trucks. He held a series of corporate roles, including CEO of Sam’s Club and CEO of Walmart International. As head of the country’s largest retailer by revenue and largest private employer, the Walmart CEO plays an outsize role in the American political and corporate landscape.
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During his tenure, Mr. McMillon has invested in growing e-commerce sales to fend off Amazon.com Inc., and he pared down Walmart’s overseas operations. He has worked to diversify Walmart’s sources of revenue by pushing into advertising, healthcare and memberships. He has also waded more than previous CEOs into the American political landscape.
Walmart’s sales have grown rapidly during the pandemic era. Early on, Walmart benefited as shoppers clamored for everyday items like toilet paper, then spent heavily on home goods and other items bolstered by government stimulus payments. More recently thrifty shoppers have gravitated to Walmart as prices rise for a host of goods amid high inflation and spending shifts to necessities such as food.
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Mr. McMillon recently updated his stock trading plan to sell a predetermined batch of Walmart shares each month between June 2023 and May 2025, according to a securities filing. The trading plan replaced one that was set to end in March. Such trading plans are common for top executives who want to regularly sell shares while having access to insider information.
—Theo Francis contributed to this article.