Meet Latriece Watkins, the first female U.S. chief merchandising officer at Walmart

Abu Mubarik May 10, 2023
Since arriving at Walmart, Watkins has been at the forefront of championing diversity and inclusion at the company. Photo credit: Walmart

Latriece Watkins is the newly appointed U.S. chief merchandising officer at Walmart Inc. This new role makes her the first woman, as well as the first person of color to hold the job. In this current position, she will oversee the teams that choose products sold at more than 4,700 U.S. Walmart stores.

The 48-year-old takes over from Charles Redfield, who stepped down last month. Watkins first joined Walmart as an intern with the company’s real estate department. Since then, she has severed in several roles within Sam’s Club, Walmart U.S. merchandising, human resources, and U.S. store operations. 

Her immediate-past role includes serving as executive vice president of merchandising. Additionally, she is credited with boosting sales in her most recent role through supplier partnerships, increased innovation, and improved customer experiences.

Walmart, in a statement on its website, said Watkins has led other important positions and strategic initiatives across the company and also added that she comes into her new role with a 360-degree approach to her leadership, while keeping customers at the center.

“Those of you who have worked with Latriece know she is a merchant at heart and has a talent and passion for developing future leaders,” Walmart U.S. President and CEO, John Furner, said in the companywide email. 

“Her enthusiasm, talent, and deep experience helped establish the omni-merchandising strategy we have today, and her focus on customers and members will only strengthen our position in the future.”

Per her LinkedIn profile, Watkins served as EVP of consumables since January 2020. She also worked as SVP of U.S. store operations, SVP of enterprise strategy, SVP of merchandising for snacks and beverages, and VP of adult beverages, according to Win Sight Grocery Business. She spent two years in merchandising at Walmart-owned warehouse retailer, Sam’s Club.

Watkins is a graduate of the prestigious HBCU, Spelman. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Meanwhile, CNBC reports that the appointment takes place because inflation has reduced consumer spending power and is hurting Walmart’s sales.

Since arriving at Walmart, Watkins has been at the forefront of championing diversity and inclusion at the company. She served as the chairperson for the African American Resource Group for two terms, and also leads the company’s criminal justice Shared Value Network team – which focuses on leveraging the company’s strengths and expertise to increase racial equity within the criminal justice system, according to Ladies to Watch.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: May 10, 2023


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