By  on December 10, 2013

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. named David Cheesewright president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart International, which is the second largest operating segment within the company generating nearly 30 percent of its revenues.

Cheesewright is president and ceo of Wal-Mart’s Europe, Middle East and Africa and Canada regions. He will report to Doug McMillon, who on Nov. 25 was named president and ceo of Wal-Mart Stores, succeeding Mike Duke.

Both Cheesewright and McMillon will assume their new roles on Feb. 1. Wal-Mart said Cheesewright’s successor will be named later.

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International represents “a tremendous opportunity” for Wal-Mart, Cheesewright said, adding, “Our success is dependent on our associates and I’m committed to investing in them. Together, we will find innovative and sustainable ways to serve our customers and provide them with the quality, affordable products they expect from us. 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 pointedly addressed capital discipline and productivity, two areas in which the international division’s performance has been lacking.

The international business is important to Wal-Mart because the company is well-developed in North America. Retail analysts believe that much of Wal-Mart’s future growth will come from outside the U.S. The position of president and ceo of international has also been a springboard to the group’s ceo suite. McMillon was president and ceo of International before his promotion, and his predecessor, Duke, held the same title.

Among Cheesewright’s challenges: In markets such as China and Brazil, Wal-Mart is facing headwinds from wage inflation in the high single digits and, in some cases, double digits. Wal-Mart is also fighting allegations of corruption in Mexico, China and Brazil. Investigations are still ongoing and fines are piling up. The company is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice, while Wal-Mart itself is looking into its operations in Brazil, India, China and Mexico.

Cheesewright joined Wal-Mart in 1999 at Asda, the company’s U.K. operation, where he held positions in operations, merchandising, logistics, strategy and format development. He was the chief operating officer for Wal-Mart Canada and Asda before being named ceo of Wal-Mart Canada. He was named to his current position in 2011. As president and ceo of Wal-Mart’s EMEA and Canada region, Cheesewright oversaw the integration of the Massmart acquisition in sub-Saharan Africa and more aggressive growth in the U.K. through the purchase of Netto stores. Prior to joining Wal-Mart, Cheesewright worked at Mars Confectionery in the U.K.

Craig R. Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, said Cheesewright positioned Wal-Mart in Canada to gain market share; improved Asda, which is a strong number two behind the larger, struggling Tesco, and led the acquisition and integration of Netto, gaining small format experience.

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