- Walmart Chief Marketing Officer Barbara Messing plans to leave the company by the end of August, according to an internal memo from Monday emailed to Retail Dive. Messing joined Walmart from TripAdvisor about a year ago.
- As the retailer searches for a new CMO to replace her, Michael Francis, a marketing consultant for Walmart, will expand his role and lead retail marketing for Walmart. Francis came on as a consultant in 2015 after years of working with Target where, as the Wall Street Journal described it, he was an "architect of Target's cheap-chic image." A Walmart spokesperson said Francis was not "backfilling the CMO role."
- Walmart also told employees it had created a new retail marketing team within the marketing organization to support Walmart's merchandising, store initiatives and e-commerce business. The retailer plans to hire a new senior vice president of retail marketing to permanently lead it.
Walmart said that the new retail marketing team unfolded from Messing's efforts "to best serve the changing needs of the business and our customers." In announcing the team's genesis, the retailer also indicated several new leaders to fill it out.
Taken mostly from the ranks of Walmart's existing marketing executives and managers, the executives on the retail marketing team will oversee marketing operations for grocery pickup and digital acceleration, general merchandise, consumables, health and wellness, and store experience, Walmart said.
As for Messing's departure, the company gave no reason other than to note that she was returning to the Bay Area with her family. Ad Age, which reported the news of her resignation on Monday, noted that Walmart's marketing department "has seen considerable flux" since Stephen Quinn's 2015 departure. Quinn had been in the role for the better part of a decade. His replacement moved to lead Sam's Club in 2018.
Messing joined alongside Janey Whiteside, a former American Express executive who is now Walmart's chief customer officer, a newly created position at the time of her arrival. As Messing prepares to leave, the company told staff that "she's led both memorable and effective creative campaigns that reached our customers in new and unexpected ways."
She's going at a time of solid performance at Walmart. The company has posted strong all-around numbers for the first two quarters of the year. In Q2, total sales, U.S. comparable sales, net income and domestic operating income all grew at relatively healthy rates.
Analysts see success in the retail giant's various investments and initiatives to date, as it tries to find its way in a post-Amazon landscape. At the same time, the retailer is reported by Recode to be undergoing some turmoil in its e-commerce unit, which the publication noted faces a $1 billion loss for the year, as its chief, Marc Lore, comes under increasing pressure to turn it into a profitable business.