The world’s biggest food group, Nestlé SA, on Tuesday said it has hired a key member of the executive team of the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Wan Ling Martello, executive vice president of global e-commerce for emerging markets at Wal-Mart, will become executive vice president and chief financial officer of Nestlé when Jim Singh retires at the end of March.
Wal-Mart on Tuesday also revealed the retirement in July of Eduardo Castro-Wright, 56, vice chairman and chief executive officer of global e-commerce and global sourcing. However, Wal-Mart didn’t mention the resignation of Martello, a rising star in the organization, even though it occurred the same day as Castro-Wright’s announcement. A Wal-Mart spokesman said the company would not be issuing a press release or discussing Martello’s departure.
In her role, Martello managed one of Wal-Mart’s fastest-growing business segments — emerging markets. Last year, Martello spearheaded the launch of e-commerce in China and Japan from a new global business unit set up in San Francisco.
Martello became chief financial officer of Wal-Mart’s international division in 2005 and also served as senior vice president of the division. In 2010, she was promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer of global e-commerce, reporting to Castro-Wright. There’s been speculation over his future with Wal-Mart since January 2010 when Castro-Wright, then vice chairman of Wal-Mart U.S., was replaced by Bill Simon. Castro-Wright, who retained the vice chairman title, moved to California as president and ceo of global e-commerce and global sourcing.
“Tuesday’s news follows a number of executive management level changes both in the U.S. and internationally, that have taken place over the last 18 months,” said Charles Grom, a retail analyst at Deutsche Bank. “While we welcome change, given the company’s unfavorable results over the past few years, recent voluntary departures raise a red flag in our view.” Grom was referring to the August restructuring of Wal-Mart’s e-commerce business, when Raul Vazquez, global executive vice president of e-commerce and developing markets, and Steve Nave, senior vice president for walmart.com, resigned.
Wal-Mart said it expects to name new leadership to succeed Castro-Wright by the end of January and that he will assist in the transition.