Does Wal-Mart Already Have a Duke Succession Plan?

Mike Duke may not have been president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) for long, but recent speculation that he is already planning his check-out has sent rumors flying as for who will succeed Duke as CEO of the world’s largest retailer. Duke is just the fourth CEO since the founding of Wal-Mart’s trade company in 1970, and ever since the retirement of its first CEO, the company has been known to look inside for a successor. If Duke does decide to leave, his tenure will mark the shortest of any of Wal-Mart’s CEOs thus far.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported Tuesday that although there have been rumors circulating about Duke stepping down, there is little expectation that it will happen immediately, as when he was appointed CEO, he had three months of training prior to fully taking over. There is consideration of whether Wal-Mart will announce its successor in the coming months, especially with its shareholder meeting being held on June 7.

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Two possible successors to Duke, 63, are identified as Doug McMillon, who is 46, and Bill Simon, 53. McMillon runs international operations while Simon is in charge of the U.S. stores. Regardless of whom is chosen to succeed Duke, the new CEO will face significant challenges as he inherits a chain struggling to lure customers into the physical store and away from online retailers such as Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). Bloomberg also explained in its report that high unemployment has contributed to a dwindled Wal-Mart workforce that is less capable of keeping shelves stocked and mediating problems oversees.

As for now, Wal-Mart spokespersons are remaining tight-lipped about succession rumors and its timetable. If only we could get in touch with the Walton family…

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