By  on March 10, 2009

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said on Monday that it had named Brian Cornell as president and chief executive officer of Sam’s Club, the members-only warehouse operating segment.

Cornell replaces Doug McMillon, who became president and ceo of Wal-Mart International last month.

The international position became open when Mike Duke was promoted to the post of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. president and ceo. Cornell, whose appointment is effective April 3, will report to Duke.

In Cornell, Wal-Mart appears to have found an executive with experience in both food merchandising, consumer product marketing and retail management. Cornell was ceo of Michael’s Stores, a large specialty retailer of arts and crafts products for hobbyists and do-it-yourself home decorators. Prior to that, he was executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Safeway, where he was responsible for the company’s marketing, merchandising, online delivery business and distribution operations. He also held senior management positions at PepsiCo and Tropicana International.

Sam’s Club’s performance in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31 stabilized in comparison to the third quarter’s weak results. Total sales for the year rose 5.6 percent to $46.8 billion. Sam’s sales of $11.8 billion for the fourth quarter were flat in comparison to last year’s same period.

At year’s end, there were 602 Sam’s Clubs operating in the U.S. Between 15 and 20 new Sam’s Clubs are planned for 2009.

“If you look at the performance of the three biggest warehouse clubs over the past year, it’s clear that the club business is among the fastest growing retail segments,” said Duke. “There has never been a time of greater opportunity for Sam’s Club, and its continued growth is an integral part of our company’s overall business plan.”

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