The world’s biggest retailer announced Tuesday that it’s tapped an insider to head Walmart International, its second biggest operating segment.
David Cheesewright, who has been president and CEO of Walmart’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Canada region since 2011, will assume the role Feb. 1.
Cheesewright will be taking over the intentional reigns from Doug McMillon, who was named late last month to succeed Mike Duke as Wal-Mart Stores‘ president and CEO, effective Feb. 1.
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If Wal-Mart history repeats itself, Cheesewright could be a top contender in the succession plan to succeed McMillon. Both McMillon and Duke were in charge of the company’s international segment before being picked to head the Bentonville, Ark.,-based retailer.
Joe Feldman, a senior retail analyst at Telsey Advisory Group, said the move puts Cheesewright in the running to eventually replace McMillon, along with Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Bill Simon, whom Feldman said was “near the top of the list.”
“The last couple [of] CEOs have come from being heads of the main divisions,” Feldman added. “I guess that puts (Cheesewright) in contention, assuming he does well.”
Still, Feldman emphasized that he doesn’t expect McMillon to depart anytime soon.
“They actually have a good team in place of young middle-aged leaders that can stick around and do something great over the next 10 to 15 years,” he said.
In the announcement, Cheesewright gave a glimpse of what investors can expect.
“Through strong capital discipline, we will continue to invest in new stores and e-commerce growth, as well as productivity improvements that drive profitable growth and returns,” Cheesewright said.
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After joining the company in 1999 and working at its U.K. operation Asda, Cheesewright has risen through the ranks, serving as the chief operating officer for both Walmart Canada and Asda. Before that, he was in a leadership role with Mars Confectionery.
Wal-Mart’s international division represents a crucial segment for the retailer. It has more than 6,200 retail units and generates nearly 30 percent of its revenue. During the third quarter, Walmart International’s net sales grew 4.1 percent on a constant currency basis. This outstripped the U.S. division’s net sales growth, which rose 2.4 percent during the period.
—By CNBC’s Katie Little. Follow her on Twitter@KatieLittle.