After five years as head of membership-only retail warehouse Sam’s Club, it was recently announced that Rosalind Brewer will be exiting from her position as CEO. Doug McMillon, CEO of parent company Walmart, said to staff in a memo that Brewer was stepping down because “she wants a new challenge.”
“She’s leaving Sam’s with momentum,” said McMillon. “Roz and the team have developed a strategy that’s led to three consecutive quarters of improving comp sales and some exciting innovation.”
Brewer will reportedly be replaced by Sam’s Club’s current chief merchant, John Furner.
Brewer’s tenure as CEO saw Sam’s Club making advances in eCommerce, including the introduction of the box store’s Scan & Go feature — a mobile payment option that allows Sam’s customers to scan UPC codes on items directly into their phone’s Scan & Go app. When customers have finished with their shopping, they are able to pay directly on their phone, from anywhere in the store, as a way to bypass checkout.
Sam’s Club has faced increasing pressure from category leader Costco in recent years. Costco has managed to keep growth considerably higher than Sam’s Club, despite some slowed growth. Over the past three fiscal quarters, Sam’s has reported modest growth, according to Fortune, including a 1.4 percent rise in the most recent. 2015 wasn’t the best for Sam’s, which saw total sales down 0.1 percent and comp sales down 0.5 percent for the 2015 holiday quarter.
The big key to Sam’s loss then was food price deflation, which led to a comp sales decline in fresh and grocery foods during the fourth quarter of 2015. Sam’s Club and other bulk discount grocery sellers like Aldi and Costco are also potentially facing some serious competition from eCommerce startup LogicLane, which sells discount wholesale groceries on its eCommerce marketplace. LogicLane opened its first brick-and-mortar location late last July in Uniontown, Penn., as a way to expand its brand presence.