By  on April 9, 2007

Wal-Mart U.S. president and chief executive officer Eduardo Castro-Wright has shuffled the top leadership of the retailer's largest operating division, taking another step in an aggressive, three-year turnaround plan.

Bill Simon, executive vice president for professional services, who created the retailer's $4 generic prescription drug program, will be chief operating officer for the $226 billion division. Pat Curran, former senior vice president of store operations for the mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions, will be executive vice president of people. She will oversee human resources, vulnerable area for Wal-Mart, which has been criticized for mistreating workers. Both are new positions and will report to Castro-Wright.

The moves are another step in Wal-Mart's overhaul of the underperforming U.S. business, which has lagged behind Target in same-store sales.

The $345 billion Bentonville, Ark., retailer announced last week that Castro-Wright would report directly to Wal-Mart president and ceo H. Lee Scott, rather than to vice chairman John Menzer. Menzer was given the additional title of chief administrative officer, responsible for supervising strategic planning, sustainability, informational technology and other support functions.

Castro-Wright, who ran Wal-Mart's Mexican subsidiary, has not been shy about making changes. He embarked on a huge store remodeling campaign in the middle of last year and revamped the way employees are scheduled and compensated. In January, he named John Fleming, a Target veteran, Wal-Mart's first chief merchant.

Simon will oversee operations for 3,400 U.S. stores. Curran began as an hourly associate at Wal-Mart and now will oversee benefits for 1.3 million U.S. employees.

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