McKenna joined Walmart when it acquired Asda

Walmart has appointed a new CEO to lead its international business after Judith McKenna announced her retirement.

British-born McKenna will step down as CEO and president of Walmart International on 11 September 2023. She will be replaced by Kath McLay, who currently leads Sam’s Club, Walmart’s US-based member-only wholesale business.

McKenna will remain at the business until 31 January to support the transition. She will also retain board positions at Walmex, Flipkart and PhonePe.

One of the most high-profile Brits to crack the upper echelons of US retail, McKenna joined Walmart following its acquisition of Asda in 1999, where she was CFO, then COO. In 2013 she moved to Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, where she worked in roles leading strategy, real estate and M&A for Walmart International. She also had a spell leading Walmart’s Neighbourhood Market business of smaller-format stores.

She was promoted to CEO and president of Walmart International in 2018, and more recently was instrumental in the £6.8bn sale of Asda to Mohsin and Zuber Issa’s EG Group. It saw an end to Walmart’s immediate presence within the UK, however the company still retains an undisclosed equity investment in Asda.

“Judith’s leadership has positively impacted countless lives by creating opportunity and showing us how to lead with purpose,” said Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon. “Her deep care for our associates around the globe and her passion for developing people has made a difference.

“Judith, we are extremely grateful for everything you’ve done for our associates and for our business. I have appreciated your partnership and have loved watching you lead and make the world a better place through your work.”

As part of the wider shake-up, Walmart has also promoted COO Chris Nicholas to replace McLay as president and CEO of Sam’s Club. Prior to joining Walmart in 2018, Nicholas spent more than a decade on executive teams across Tesco’s international business and Coles in Australia.