What is in this article?:
- Executive to Watch: Maintaining Sam's Momentum Key for Rosalind Brewer
- Top Priority
Title: President and CEO, Sam’s Club
Biggest Challenge: Keeping Sam’s Club on a growth trajectory and maintaining its distinct identity
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam’s Club has been one of the bright spots for Wal-Mart Stores during the economic downturn, and it will be up to Rosalind Brewer, the warehouse club’s new president and chief executive officer, to keep it that way.
Named earlier this year to succeed Brian Cornell as the head of the warehouse-club chain, Brewer is a five-year veteran of Wal-Mart’s U.S. division who began her career as a chemist at Kimberly Clark.
Sara AlTukhaim, a senior analyst for the club channel at Kantar Retail, said that although Brewer has proven herself as a manager of a large piece of Wal-Mart’s business — in her most recent role, Brewer was responsible for about 42% of Wal-Mart East Coast U.S. operations — she will have some adjustments to make at Sam’s.
“Brewer joins Sam’s Club as very much of an ‘outsider,’” AlTukhaim explained. “Sam’s Club is a very different model than anything she has dealt with before (that we know of). I think the biggest challenge for her will be whether she is able to transfer her skills and perspectives to a business model as unique as Sam’s Club and to a strategy that fundamentally relies on member acquisition and retention to drive performance.”
AlTukhaim also noted that Cornell “made a lot of progress in infusing a coherent sense of identity in Sam’s Club.”
“For Sam’s to maintain the momentum it achieved under Cornell, it’s vital that it continues to operate and lead as the unique and very separate entity that it is, especially given the high rate of Sam’s Club members who cross-shop Walmart,” AlTukhaim explained. “She undoubtedly has big shoes to fill and the Sam’s team’s receptivity to her is going to rely on how well and how quickly she aligns and reinforces the culture of Sam’s Club.”
Sam’s Club tallied sales of $53.8 billion in the company’s most recent fiscal year, up 8.8% over the preceding year, showing much stronger growth than the Walmart U.S. division.
“I think the main thing she has to do is continue what Brian Cornell started,” said Chuck Cerankosky, an analyst with Northcoast Research, Cleveland.