BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart announced two recent major personnel moves. Lori Flees has been appointed senior vice president and chief operating officer of Walmart Health and Wellness, and Musab Balbale was named vice president and general manager for the beauty division.
Flees’ position is a newly created role. She is currently the senior vice president and general merchandising manager of health and wellness at the company’s Sam’s Club division. A second new position, executive vice president of health and wellness, will be filled later, with Flees leading the business on an interim basis. As COO, she will oversee all aspects of daily health and wellness business operations and transformation.
The reorganization comes in the wake of the departure of Sean Slovenski, who oversaw the creation of the Walmart Health center format, which was unveiled last September at a remodeled Supercenter in Dallas, Ga. Providing primary and urgent care, the health centers leverage Walmart’s vast scale and expertise to address issues of accessibility, quality and cost that continue to plague the nation’s health care system.
Flees has been at Walmart for six years. Shortly after Doug McMillon became the company’s chief executive officer, she began leading the company’s enterprise strategy work. Flees then moved to Sam’s Club, where she was integral to developing affordable health care options for members and, in conjunction with Slovenski, spearheading the recent acquisition from CareZone of digital technology assets to help patients manage their prescriptions.
Walmart has continued the transformation of its beauty department with Balbale’s appointment. He will lead all merchandising strategies for the retailer’s omnichannel beauty business.
Balbale has been a part of the Walmart Beauty team for almost four years, leading the e-commerce sector of the business. According to a spokesman for the company, Balbale will continue to position Walmart as an omnichannel destination for on-trend, premium and core beauty products. Prior to joining Walmart, he was vice president and general manager of jet.com.
He follows lifelong Walmart veteran Jody Pinson, who retired in May and recently formed her own consulting business. Pinson is credited with elevating the selection and ambiance of the nation’s largest beauty retailer.
Several brand executives applauded the appointment of Balbale, who they feel can leverage synergies between e-commerce and physical stores. The importance of a strong digital beauty strategy accelerated during COVID-19.
Balbale also has a solid financial background. He received an MBA from Harvard and held positions at Summit Partners, Charles Schwab and the Boston Consulting Group.