Wal-Mart has elected vice chairman Mike Duke to succeed Lee Scott as president and chief executive.

Duke, who is also chief of international operations, joins the board of directors with immediate effect and begins his new role in February.

Scott, who has spent nearly 30 years with what has become the world’s largest retailer, is retiring from the dual posts but will continue to serve as chairman of the executive committee.

Wal-Mart’s US president, Eduardo Castro-Wright, has been promoted to vice chairman, taking on responsibility for the company’s global procurement operation.

“This management change occurs at a time of strength and momentum for Wal-Mart,” said Rob Walton, chairman of the Wal-Mart board of directors. “Our overall management team has never been stronger. We are confident that the strategy we have in place is the right one for future success and Mike has been actively involved in developing and executing this strategy.

“We are also pleased that our succession and management development process continues to develop leaders internally.”

Walton added: “Duke is a highly-respected executive both domestically and internationally, with broad experience throughout the company. He understands retail and appreciates the complex global environment in which we operate.”

Walton also paid tribute to the “extraordinary contribution” made by Scott, saying: “Lee has led Wal-Mart with humility and grace and has been a worthy successor to his predecessors, Sam Walton and David Glass.”