Chutes & Ladders: Walmart shuffles merchandise execs; Sears taps new president of hardlines

Welcome to this week's Chutes & Ladders, our roundup of hirings and firings throughout the industry. Please send the good wordor the badfrom your shop to Allison Moon and we will feature the news here at the end of each week.

Walmart is making moves within its executive merchandising team with a focus on improving sales in China. Marybeth Hays (left), who was senior VP of home for Walmart U.S., was promoted to chief merchandising and marketing officer for Walmart China, reporting to Walmart China CEO Sean Clarke. She will replace John Furner, who will be coming back to the U.S. and filling a role yet to be announced, according to a staff memo sent by Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran, The City Wire reported. Rick Hays is also moving to China as his role switches from VP of hardware and paint to VP of general merchandise for Sam's Club China. He has been a merchant buyer at Walmart for 35 years. In the final shift, Laura Wilkin, former senior VP of replenishment, is now senior VP of flow strategy and systems innovation. This leaves Scott Pleiman, senior VP of strategy, pricing, planning and modular development, with the added responsibility of replenishment. Wilkin will lead the development of tools to enhance supply chain visibility and forecasting in an effort to improve product flow to stores. Story


>  Sears Holdings hired a new president of hardlines, Lynn Pendergrass, from Johnson & Johnson. She will oversee the Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard business unit as well as the hardlines partners, home appliances, lawn and garden, tools and Sears Auto Centers. Pendergrass was the worldwide chairman for Johnson & Johnson's consumer business for the past year, leading a $14 billion business segment with 23,000 employees in 80 countries. Starting in 2008, Pendergrass worked for HP for eight years. She served as senior VP and general manager of the printing and personal systems group and senior VP of the imaging and printing group. She also spent over 20 years at GE, serving in several product management and leadership positions, including president and CEO from 2005 to 2007. Story

HSN, Inc. tapped Michael Alexin as president of its men's and women's travel lifestyle brand TravelSmith, a division of Cornerstone. Alexin will have full responsibility of operating TravelSmith beginning Aug. 31, reporting to Jeff Kuster, president of the Cornerstone division of HSNi. He will lead the development and executution of a strategic plan to increase awareness and attraction to the brand. For 12 years, Alexin was VP and general merchandise manager of product design and development at Target. He built the processes of the department and the team from its origin. He was also senior VP of product development and design for Eddie Bauer; global director of apparel merchandising for Nike; and director of design and product development at Levi Strauss & Co., Dockers Menswear division. Story

 Lowe's Canada appointed Jeff Boyd to a newly created position, VP of real estate, construction and store design, effective immediately. The new VP of real estate will continue his current responsibilities of overseeing real estate, development, construction and facilities management, and will add market research, store design and procurement to his duties. Since 2013, Boyd was the senior director of real estate, development and design for Lowe's Canada. He started at the company in 2007 as a site development manager and has worked his way up the ranks. Overall, Boyd has 18 years of experience in real estate, land development and engineering, as well as 11 years in consulting. Boyd's promotion is part of Lowe's Canada's $50 million expansion plan, including the recent purchase of 12 former Target locations. Story

Kings Food Markets promoted three executives within its merchant departments, Supermarket News reported. Arthur Goncalves is moving from director of seafood sales and merchandising to VP of product and floral. He has been with Kings for 18 years and started as an assistant store manager. Goncalves has held leadership positions in several areas, including operations, center store merchandising, engineering, maintenance and construction. Scott Zoeller, former VP of deli sales and merchandising, was promoted to VP of deli, meat and seafood. He has been with Kings for 11 years and has helped grow the prepared foods, deli and cheese departments. Rick Michener was promoted from director of in-store prepared foods and chef operations to director of seafood sales and merchandising, taking Goncalves' former position. Michener has been with Kings for four years and held three positions in business and operations. Story

American Eagle Outfitters' chief marketing officer, Michael Leedy, is stepping down, effective Sept. 15. An executive search for his replacement is underway. Leedy was CMO at American Eagle from 1994 to 2006, then had a two-year stint as CMO at Chico's from 2006 to 2008. He returned to American Eagle as CMO in 2011.The long-time American Eagle veteran also founded a retail-focused brand strategy firm, Method, in the early 1990s and was creative director at The Limited for one year prior. Leedy's future plans are unclear, but he has agreed to serve in an advisory role if necessary for a smooth transition. Story