Retirement of Walmart International CEO prompts several executive shifts

Sam’s Club CEO Kathryn McLay will take Judith McKenna’s role as head of international operations; U.S. COO Christopher Nicholas will take the helm at the warehouse club; Kieran Shanahan becomes COO, all effective Sept. 11.
Walmart announced several executive changes Wednesday. / Photo: Shutterstock

Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International, will officially retire at the end of January but will transition out of her post beginning next month, the retail giant announced in a federal filing Wednesday.

McKenna’s retirement sets in place several executive shifts:

Sam’s Club President and CEO Kathryn McLay will take McKenna’s place, effective Sept. 11, Walmart said.

Christopher Nicholas, who has served as Walmart U.S.’s COO and CFO in recent years, has been named CEO of Sam’s Club upon McLay’s departure.

Kieran Shanahan, who joined Walmart more than 25 years ago, will take Nicholas' post as chief operating officer. 

McKenna, who came to Walmart in 1996, has been in charge of international operations since 2018. In that role, she leads 550,000 employees across 23 countries.

Judith is transforming the shape of the international portfolio while expanding e-commerce and omnichannel offerings, leveraging innovations from across international markets to build strong local businesses that are powered by Walmart, and working to make lives easier by creating a global culture that puts the customer at the center of everything,” Walmart said on its biography page for McKenna.

Before heading Walmart International, she served as chief operating officer for Walmart U.S., leading the rollout of online grocery sales.

McLay has helmed Sam’s Club since November 2019. She joined Walmart in 2015 as VP of U.S. Finance and Strategy and was promoted to SVP of U.S. Supply Chain a few months later, a role she held until taking the CEO post at the Walmart-owned warehouse club.

During her time at Sam’s Club, McLay has overseen a period of record same-store sales growth and membership numbers. Early this year, the retailer announced plans to open 30 new warehouse stores in the U.S. over the next several years along with a multi-year plan to modernize its supply chain.

Nicholas has served as COO of Walmart U.S. since October 2021. Before that, he was the CFO of Walmart U.S. from February 2021 to October 2021. He previously served as CFO of Walmart International.

Shanahan came to Walmart a quarter century ago, as a store associate at Asda. He joined Walmart U.S. in 2014 as VP for online grocery, where he helped "pioneer online grocery pickup and delivery," the retailer said. 

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart is scheduled to report its second quarter earnings early Thursday.

This story has been updated to include information on Kieran Shanahan becoming COO of Walmart U.S. 



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