Walmart Inc. said on Monday longtime executive Brett Biggs will step down from his role as chief financial officer of the world’s largest retailer next year.
Biggs, the finance chief since 2015, helped oversee a period of rapid change at Walmart as the brick-and-mortar retailer launched and expanded a number of initiatives to help fend off competition from Amazon.com Inc.
Walmart made its biggest overseas investment in 2018 with a $16 billion deal to buy a majority stake in Indian online marketplace Flipkart, and beefed up its U.S. e-commerce business through the purchase of apparel retailers Modcloth and Bonobos.
Monday’s announcement came as a surprise to some analysts who had viewed Biggs as next in line for Walmart’s top job.
“Bret Biggs was a candidate to ultimately succeed Doug McMillon as CEO, given his long tenure at the company and broad experience across business units and functions outside of finance,” said Jason Benowitz, senior portfolio manager at Roosevelt Investment Group.
“However, we expect McMillon to serve many more years at the helm,” Benowitz added.
Walmart’s shares were down 1 percent in late morning trade.
Biggs had held several finance positions, including CFO of the company’s international division and U.S. business, since joining the company in 2000.
Biggs will remain in the role until a successor is named next year, Walmart said, adding he will continue to represent the company as a board member of its fintech startup until January 2023.
The startup, a joint venture with investment firm Ribbit Capital, aims to develop financial products for Walmart’s employees and customers.
Walmart said it was considering internal and external candidates to replace Biggs, as the company deals with surging labor and supply chain costs that have eaten into its profit margins.
By Uday Sampath Kumar