As it struggles with a lacklustre Canadian retail market and pressures to compete in digital commerce, Walmart Inc. is bringing in a new leader for its Canadian operations.
Horacio Barbeito, a veteran with Walmart in Latin America, will take over as president and chief executive of Walmart Canada in October, the company announced on Monday.
He arrives at a challenging time for Walmart and other retailers in Canada. Rising consumer debt and sluggish economic growth have contributed to softness in the Canadian retail market. While general merchandise stores over all saw 3-per-cent sales gains in June, according to Statistics Canada, retail sales have been soft for more than a year. And as Walmart Inc. has reported strong results from its U.S. stores, its Canadian business has lagged.
Earlier this month, Walmart lowered its forecast of international sales growth for the year, mostly dragged down by weakness in Canada and Britain. It now expects the international division to report sales growth between 3 per cent and 4 per cent in fiscal 2020; in February, the company had said it expected international stores to generate approximately 5-per-cent net sales growth.
As e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. expands its product offerings as well as the speed of its delivery services, retailers attempting to compete in the digital space are feeling the pressure. Walmart Canada is working to keep up with digital shopping trends: It is expanding a partnership with digital ordering service Instacart to provide home delivery of groceries, and is targeting grocery pickup service in almost half of more than 400 stores in Canada by the end of the year.
The change comes three years after Lee Tappenden was named to the role. He will move to Walmart’s international support team in October, and will leave the company at the end of January.
Mr. Barbeito has been with the company for 25 years, most recently as CEO of Walmart Argentina since 2012, and CEO of Walmart Argentina and Chile since 2015.
Walmart Canada declined a request for comment on the executive shuffle, but in a statement pointed to Mr. Barbeito’s strong performance record in Argentina and Chile.
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