Andy Dunn

Andy Dunn is taking stock as he leaves Walmart Inc. 

The Bonobos founder, who sold the brand to Walmart and then oversaw the retail giant’s digital consumer brands unit as senior vice president, said in “A Love Letter to Walmart” posted to LinkedIn Thursday that his last day would come early next year.

Dunn joined Walmart in 2017 on the heels of the $310 million acquisition of Bonobos. He ranks as a pioneer in fashion’s first-wave direct-to-consumer rush who pushed Bonobos into retail with an inventory-free showroom concept, and said he came to Walmart with a plan to leave the company better than he found it. 

And while Dunn said it was “hard to take measure of such an objective,” he did note that “teams are what make the world go round” and said he was more certain on “how much I gained.” 

The letter is at once reflective and — as is only appropriate for LinkedIn — a litany of lessons learned and skills picked up on his last job. It was also a pitch for all the virtues of Walmart.  

“I learned a lot more about retail transformation in the digital age at the world’s biggest company,” Dunn said. “I watched our strategy evolve as we uncorked our unique advantages on a new omni playing field — and began to identify where we aren’t just catching up, but where we are winning.”

He pointed to the digital brands group’s success in building mattress name Allswell and described the group as an “incubator” that with his departure will be “plugged directly into the Walmart mothership.”

“I learned about the enormous power of a culture built with a singular focus: the customer,” Dunn said. “The more I fell in love with that mission, the more I came to understand what Walmart does in America and around the world as a moral imperative. With this in mind, we acquired Eloquii, a leading plus-size fashion company committed to serving a customer who deserves better.”

Where once it seemed Walmart’s buying spree — the company bought Jet.com, Bonobos, Bare Necessities, ModCloth and others — might be a play at building a new nexus of consumer direct power, the company seems to have largely settled on using its new skills and assets to help drive its main business. 

Jet.com was integrated into Walmart’s main e-commerce business and Modcloth was sold. Now Dunn’s division is getting “plugged in” to headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., too. 

But Walmart’s e-commerce push seems to have reenergized the main business and the company overall pushed net income up 93.3 percent to $3.28 billion in the third quarter as comparable sales rose 3.2 percent.

As for Walmart, Dunn’s love seems to be reciprocated. 

A Walmart spokesperson said: “After more than two years innovating new, incubated brands and bringing on important acquired brands, as an entrepreneur at heart, Andy Dunn has decided now is the right time to take the next steps in his career. During the last two and a half years, Andy’s contributions to the organization have been invaluable. He’s been instrumental in building out and growing Walmart’s proprietary brand portfolio. The DNA of the incubated and acquired brands is now a key part of our strategy, and provides us a brand engine we can plug directly into the enterprise. Andy will remain onboard through January and will work closely with merchandising and brand leadership to ensure a smooth and successful transition.”

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