BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart has promoted Kathryn McLay to lead Sam’s Club as the division’s new president and chief executive officer.
McLay succeeds John Furner, who was elevated last month to the role of president and CEO of Walmart’s U.S. division.
McLay’s promotion comes less than a year after she was named executive vice president of Neighborhood Markets for Walmart U.S., where she oversaw operations of nearly 700 of the company’s smaller-format Neighborhood Market food stores.
McLay, 45, joined Walmart in April 2015, and since then she has led a number of strategic initiatives within the company’s supply chain, including On Time In Full (OTIF), import distribution centers and return centers.
She arrived at Walmart after 14 years with Woolworths, Australia’s largest supermarket chain, where she held roles in supply chain, strategy and finance. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia.
McLay becomes the second woman to lead Sam’s Club, after Rosalind Brewer, who held the CEO post for five years. Her departure from the company in early 2017 paved the way for the ascension of Furner, who had previously been the warehouse club’s chief merchandising officer.
The 45-year-old Furner started with Walmart as an hourly associate in 1993. He subsequently held roles as store manager, district manager and buyer, as well as leadership positions in operations, merchandising and sourcing for Walmart U.S., Sam’s Club and Walmart International, where he served at Walmart China as chief merchandising and marketing officer.
Furner was brought back from China in 2016 to manage merchandising for Sam’s Club. Following Brewer’s departure, Furner was credited with boosting sales at Sam’s Club for 10 consecutive quarters and increasing memberships. Sam’s online business has also grown, and the division under Furner redefined its target consumer as a family that earned somewhere between $75,000 and $125,000 a year, had two or three kids at home and one or two jobs, and some own a small business.
Furner succeeded Greg Foran as chief at Walmart U.S. Foran led the division for five years and is leaving the retailer to become CEO at Air New Zealand Ltd. Foran said he plans to stick around Bentonville through January to ensure a smooth transition.
“John has done a fantastic job at Sam’s Club,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in announcing Furner’s promotion. “He has the experience and judgment to know what we should continue doing and what we should change. He embraces technology and new ways of working, and he keeps our customers and Sam’s Club members at the center of everything we do, while delivering results for the business.”