Duncan MacNaughton, Wal-Mart’s chief merchandising officer, has resigned, just as the world’s largest retailer enters the crucial Black Friday through holiday period.

This story first appeared in the November 26, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

MacNaughton, who became chief merchandising officer of Wal-Mart U.S. in January 2011, was responsible for all merchandise categories across more than 3,700 stores.

MacNaughton was instrumental in developing what Wal-Mart dubbed as Black Friday Week, an extended shopping period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. The retailer upped its promotional posture this year with more doorbusters and deals, a price-matching policy and a holiday “newsroom,” possibly to fend off Amazon.com.

Wal-Mart U.S. chief executive officer Greg Foran sent a memo to Wal-Mart associates today informing them of MacNaughton’s departure to pursue other opportunities. The ceo also announced a restructuring of the merchandising organization.

“Duncan’s departure has allowed me to relook at our merchandising structure and the incredible talent within the team,” Foran said. “At this time, I have chosen not to name a new chief merchant. I would like to use this opportunity to get closer to the merchandising organization.”

Steve Bratspies, executive vice president of general merchandise, is executive vice president of food, which includes a strong focus on Fresh, Foran said. Andy Barron, executive vice president of softlines will also assume responsibility over general merchandise. Labeed Diab, senior vice president of health and wellness, will report to Michelle Gloeckler, executive vice president of consumables and U.S. manufacturing. Jack Sinclair will assume another role at Wal-Mart, to be announced at a later date. Bratspies, Barron and Gloeckler report to Foran.

“Through Duncan’s leadership, we have focused on developing our merchants while driving a stronger collaboration between marketing and merchandising,” Foran said. “This has made us more relevant to and focused on our customers,” president Doug McMillon said. “I also think it’s important to recognize Duncan for his leadership in re-engaging with our suppliers to develop joint business plans. This work is resulting in better and more localized assortment in our stores. We’ll miss his creativity and energy.”

MacNaughton was said to have been a strong candidate for the position of Wal-Mart U.S. ceo when Bill Simon departed, after Simon was passed up for the company’s top job, which went to McMillon. However, Wal-Mart named Greg Foran to lead the U.S. business instead.

McNaughton joined Wal-Mart in 2009 as chief merchandising officer of the retailer’s troubled Canadian division. In October 2010, he was promoted to executive vice president of merchandising of Wal-Mart U.S., where he was responsible for consumables, health and wellness, and walmart.com. Prior to joining Wal-Mart, MacNaughton filled leadership roles at Kraft Foods, HEB Grocery Company and Albertsons. He was also executive vice president of merchandising and marketing at Supervalu.

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