Bill Simon, CEO of Walmart’s US operations is leaving the giant retailer after what the Huffpost calls a “rough four years.” The average American probably doesn’t think Walmart has had a rough four years–it’s stock price has risen to $76 from $45 in that time, and nearly every American has spent some money at Walmart. But for five quarters in a row US store sales have fallen–and apparently a CEO as visible and prominent as Bill Simon can’t survive that kind of performance. Simon will be replaced by Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart Asia.
It’s the same old story with Walmart–one that Foran may have as much trouble reversing as Simon did. People shop more online–you know you do–and Walmart isn’t anywhere near as good as Amazon at the online game. As much as it’s a retailer, Amazon is at its core a technology company–a data cruncher that has a tangible advantage with consumers. Walmart, for all its online efforts, remains primarily a “big box” store. Even there, Costco and other retailers have been chipping away at Walmart’s dominance. Walmart also suffers from some PR problems, given its much publicized low-wage workforce, an unsightly percentage of whom are also using government-funded food stamps to sustain themselves. Greg Foran won’t be one of them, however: he’ll earn a salary of $950,000. And if you feel bad for Bill Simon, temper it with this: he’ll get a $4.5 million retirement package, according to USA Today. He’s just 54-years-old. That should put a “rough four years” in perspective.