Walmart Inc. named company veteran Latriece Watkins as its chief US merchandising officer, giving her one of the most influential jobs in retail after a year of rapid shifts in consumer demand.
Watkins, 48, will start in her new role immediately, according to a May 5 memo from John Furner, the head of Walmart’s U.S. operations. She replaces Charles Redfield, who recently stepped down after a little more than a year on the job.
Watkins will be the first woman and person of color to serve as Walmart’s chief merchant. She will oversee product selection and supplier relationships.
U.S. shoppers, squeezed by high rates of inflation, are spending more on food while eschewing general-merchandise items that tend to carry higher profit margins. Consumers are also spending more on travel and experiences such as eating out as the pandemic abates.
A lawyer by training, Watkins has held positions in merchandising, human resources, store operations and at Sam’s Club during more than two decades with Walmart. She most recently was head of the company’s consumables operation.
Walmart is America’s largest overall retailer and is No. 2 in the Digital Commerce 360’s Top 1000 database, trailing only Amazon in annual ecommerce sales.
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