Wal-Mart has had only four chief executive officers in its 51 years. Here, a look at their time at the top.
This story first appeared in the November 26, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Sam Walton, 1962-1988
Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart in Rogers, Ark., in 1962, and took the company public eight years later, logging annual sales of $1 billion by 1980.
Walton’s competitive zeal and “aw shucks” demeanor helped him build a discount giant that fought off unions, “borrowed” ideas from competitors and severely pressured main street retailers.
David Glass, 1988-2000
David Glass stepped into the shoes of Wal-Mart’s famous founder, launched the Supercenter format and took the company’s low-cost vision to Mexico and beyond. Sales tallied $1 billion a week by 1993 and more than $100 billion annually by 1997.
Glass oversaw a period of huge expansion for Wal-Mart and stepped out on a high note, but missed the growing discontent with the company including concerns about how workers were treated.
H. Lee Scott, 2000-2009
H. Lee Scott helped bring the retailer into the digital age with walmart.com, was at the helm when the company reached the top of the Fortune 500, oversaw a major push for environmental sustainability and drove annual sales to more than $400 billion.
Scott’s tenure included some serious image rehab, a rare failure abroad, in Germany, and an unsuccessful turn toward more fashionable apparel.
Mike Duke, 2009-2014
Mike Duke expanded Wal-Mart to India and South Africa, supported programs for sustainable agriculture and U.S.-produced goods and established @walmartlabs, a hub for developing social, mobile and global platforms. Analysts expect sales in his final year to hit $478 billion.
Duke, like his predecessors, fought general concerns about how Wal-Mart treated its workers, and also wrestled with allegations that the company bribed Mexican officials to help speed up its expansion in the country.
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