There are occasionally some parallels between retailing and football. Granted, the average IQ level is generally higher in retail, and the salaries generally lower.
There are occasionally some parallels between retailing and football. Granted, the average IQ level is generally higher in retail, and the salaries generally lower, but one of the hallmarks that unites a successful retail business and successful football club is that of continuity.
Just as Surrey’s most popular football team was propelled to immense success by the long-term tenure of Sir Alex Ferguson, so many of the world’s most successful retailers have been typified by patience, continuity and well thought-through succession planning.
There are possibly a few contenders for the title ‘most important person in global retailing’, but my own personal nomination would be ‘whoever is running Walmart’. Until early next year, that will be Mike Duke, before he hands over the reins to Doug McMillon, the former Walmart distribution centre worker who has most recently been running Walmart International, the second largest retailer in the world behind Walmart US.
Duke stepping down should not be seen as either surprising or prompted by the recent disappointing trading in the USA. 63-year-old Duke’s retirement was widely anticipated within the business and the board will have been weighing up internal candidates carefully.
The business has always liked promoting from within, and there will have been some extensive deliberation before choosing between McMillon and other candidates such as Bill Simon, the head of Walmart US. The appointment should herald a long-term reign for McMillon, as he’s only 47 and has extensive experience throughout Walmart US, Sam’s Club and International, equipping him well to govern the world’s largest retail enterprise.
Aside from the possibility of Bill Simon leaving the business having seen his CEO ambitions thwarted, the next big unknown is who will run Walmart International.
One possibility is Scott Price, the very able and well-respected chief of Walmart Asia, with a background in DHL and Coca Cola. Another will be Dave Cheesewright, the ex-Asda COO who moved on to run Walmart Canada before ascending to the role of President & CEO of Walmart EMEA, overseeing operations in Sub-Saharan Africa, Canada, Europe and the Middle East.
A final option could be giving me the job, but as my phone hasn’t started ringing yet, I’m betting on Mr. Cheesewright.
Bryan Roberts, director of retail insights, Kantar Retail