Reported by Liku Zelleke
Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Sam’s Club, part of the wholesale chain of Wal-Mart, will be leaving the company it has been reported. She is the first African-American woman to have sat at the head of the corporation which she led for 5 years. She will be replaced by Sam’s Club’s Chief Merchant, John Furner who is expected to start his new job on February 1.
Reports also suggest that Brewer will be leaving the company amidst its efforts to catch up with its rival, Costco Wholesale. She was responsible for the implementation of many initiatives to help with the effort.
Brewer, who is well-respected in her company, said that she would be leaving the company with an annual turnover of nearly $60 billion because she said she wanted “a new challenge,” according to Doug McMillon, CEO of Wal-Mart, who announced the news in a memo to his staff.
Fortune, which had put Brewer at number 19 in their “Most Powerful Women” list, reports that she had made great efforts in pushing her company forward in e-commerce with innovative schemes like drive-through pick up of orders that were made online and via scan-and-go, where members can scan items using their phones to shorten checkout times. These two schemes alone had substantially helped narrow the gap with Costco.
According to her bio, Brewer, who is a chemist by training, had worked for over 20 years at Kimberly Clark before joining Wal-Mart in 2006 as their regional vice president.
Although she has had a spectacular career at Sam’s Club, Brewer did find herself in the midst of controversy when, during a CNN interview in 2015, she commented that she felt unease at having recently sat across from a group of suppliers that consisted entirely of white men. The hashtag #BoycottRacistSamsClub was soon trending and she even ended up receiving death threats.
Brewer sits on the board of Lockheed Martin as well as chairing the board of trustees at her alma mater, Spelman College.