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High-flying Kiwi to head US Walmart

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 12:24 25/07/2014
Greg Foran
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HIGH-FLYER: Greg Foran is the new head of Walmart in the US, just months after he was appointed to head the retailer's Asian operations.

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New Zealander Greg Foran has been appointed the new United States boss of Walmart, the world's largest retailer.

From humble origins stacking supermarket shelves more than 30 years ago, the 53-year-old has risen to become one of the most high-flying executives this country has produced.

Foran joined Walmart in 2011 and became chief executive of Walmart China within six months.

His move to the top United States role on August 9 comes just two months after he was promoted to head up Walmart Asia.

The Arkansas-headquartered company has a particularly strong domestic presence, with the US business accounting for about 60 per cent of its revenue.

Reuters reported Foran will earn a pay packet of US$950,000 ($1.11 million) and is in line for stock options worth up to US$4.9m next year.

But it will not be an easy ride, with the company's US operations are struggling with sluggish sales in the most recently reported quarter to April 30.

Sandra Skrovan from retail-analytics firm Planet Retail told Reuters that Foran was well-respected, and brought a strong background in both grocery and general merchandise.

The retail veteran's 35 year career includes several senior roles at Australian retailer Woolworths, including head of supermarkets, and head of electronics chain Dick Smith.

Reuters reported he had been "widely tipped" to take the top job at Woolworths, but quit after he was passed over.

Foran has a diploma in management from the New Zealand Institute of Management, along with advanced programmes at both Harvard University and the University of Virginia, according to his company biography.

Departing Walmart-US boss Bill Simon has reportedly left amicably and will stay on as a consultant for six months.

Walmart has more than 11,000 stores in 27 countries, and has total assets worth US$205 billion.

It was founded by the Walton family, who still hole more than 50 per cent of the shares and are worth a combined total of US$152b.

The global retailer has been the subject of several ethical controversies relating to its treatment of staff and suppliers, and its impact on the wider business community.

A recent review of more than 50 studies on Walmart's economic impact in the United States found that new stores often led to fewer overall jobs, and resulted in the demise of some local small businesses.

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