In another strange turn of events, Walmart has changed senior management. Chief Financial Officer Tom Schoewe is leaving his position effective January 31, 2011. This will be the fifth management change within as many months. First was the movement of Eduardo-Castro Wright. Bill Simon was promoted to Walmart U.S. President and CEO. Former Chief Merchandising Officer John Fleming left the company effective August 1, 2010. Chief Apparel Executive Dottie Mattinson left once her responsibilities were reassigned to a subordinate.
Tom Schoewe has been instrumental in providing increased returns to shareholders as well as overseeing the financial explosion of the company over the last ten years. According to Walmart President and CEO Mike Duke, Tom Schoewe has set priorities of “growth, leverage, and returns” which have moved the company in the right direction.
One of the highlights of the career of Tom Schoewe was his ability to return over $9.4 billion through the dividend return and stock repurchase. There was not an immediate reason given why Tom Schoewe decided to end his tenure with Walmart. With the departure of Tom Schoewe, Walmart loses close to 25 years of retail and financial experience. Prior to Walmart, Tom Schoewe was the Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President for Black & Decker Corporation and Chief Financial Officer and Controller of Beatrice Consumer Durables, Inc.
The replacement for Tom Schoewe has been named, effective November 30, 2010. Charles Holley has been promoted from his role within Walmart as Executive Vice President, Finance and Treasurer. Since his arrival at Walmart in 1994, Holley has held a vast array of responsibilities to include corporate strategy and planning, relations with investors, corporate mergers, risk management, and treasury operations, to name a few.
As with Tom Schoewe, Charles Holley comes to the table with a solid managerial background. He was the managing director of the European Memorex division for Tandy Corporation, now Radio Shack. He also spent over 10 years with global auditor Ernst & Young. Just like Tom Schoewe, Holley received praise from Mike Duke. Duke speaks of Holley’s role in “pioneering international growth” and his respect within the financial and investing communities.
The unknown are the financial implications and the investor confidence effects of Chief Financial Officer Tom Schoewe leaving at such a critical time in the history of Walmart. U.S. sales are down, a pending International acquisition, and Executives leaving in droves doesn’t sit pretty in the eyes of some investors.