Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has named Rosalind Brewer president and chief executive officer of its Sam’s Club unit.

This story first appeared in the January 23, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Brewer, who succeeds Brian Cornell, is the first woman and first African-American to run one of Wal-Mart’s three operating divisions. She was previously president of the Wal-Mart east business unit, where she was responsible for $100 billion in revenue and 500,000 associates.

Sam’s Club accounts for 11.5 percent of Wal-Mart’s net sales, which in 2011 rose 3.4 percent to $419 billion. Sam’s Club’s comp-store sales, excluding fuel, increased 5.7 percent in the third quarter of 2011. Mike Duke, ceo of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said in November when the financial results were released that Sam’s is expected to surpass the $50 billion mark in net sales by the end of the year.

Cornell, who joined Sam’s Club in 2009, is leaving the warehouse club to return to the Northeast for family reasons. His tenure focused on attracting more members, including to the premium $100 membership. He raised the level of quality in areas such as produce and added brands such as Apple iPads, London Fog and Judith Ripka jewelry. Apparel at Sam’s in the third quarter posted a midsingle-digit comp increase, with strong sales in basic and men’s offsetting weakness in women’s apparel.

Other executive changes revealed Friday included Rollin Ford, who was named chief administrative officer of the company, and Gisel Ruiz, who was named executive vice president and chief operating officer of Wal-Mart U.S. Ford, who most recently was the company’s chief information officer, will continue reporting to Duke. Ruiz, who was executive vice president of people for Wal-Mart U.S., will oversee operations in more than 3,800 U.S. stores across all formats. She will continue to report to Bill Simon, president and ceo of Wal-Mart U.S., with the three regional business unit presidents reporting to her.

The new roles are effective Feb. 2.

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