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Walmart Canada promotes three execs to C-suite

Walmart Canada had made a flurry of leadership appointments — including three in the C-suite — aimed at furthering its efforts to optimize the omnichannel customer experience.

This week, the retailer named Nabeela Ixtabalan as chief operations officer, Sam Wankowski has been named chief merchandising officer, Laurent Duray as chief e-commerce officer and John Bayliss as executive vice president and transformation officer.

In her new role, Ixtabalan — the first woman to serve as COO in Walmart International — will oversee the operations and performance of more than 400 stores from coast to coast that serve more than 1.5 million customers daily, Walmart Canada said. She joined Walmart in 2020 as executive VP of people and corporate affairs following an extensive retail career working for major brands such as Starbucks and Ikea and holding senior roles in the United States, Canada and Europe. Walmart Canada noted that Ixtabalan is a leader of transformational change brings expertise in human resources, retail operations, digital innovation and agile methodology.

Walmart Canada-Nabeela Ixtabalan-Sam Wankowski-Laurent Duray-John Bayliss.jpg

From left: Walmart Canada Chief Operations Officer Nabeela Ixtabalan, Chief Merchandising Officer Sam Wankowski, Chief E-commerce Officer Laurent Duray and Executive VP and Transformation Officer John Bayliss. (Photos courtesy of Walmart Canada)

As Walmart Canada’s new chief merchant, Wankowski will focus on ensuring that customers have convenient access to food, apparel, general merchandise, and health and wellness offerings at everyday low prices, the company said. His career at Walmart began in 2003 when he joined Asda, Walmart’s former grocery chain in the United Kingdom. He spent five years in various roles at ASDA before joining Walmart Canada in 2008, where he has held a range of leadership posts in merchandising and operations, most recently as COO. 

Duray, in his role as Walmart Canada’s e-commerce chief, will lead a cross-functional team to spur the growth of Walmart.ca, which is visited by 1.5 million customers daily and includes more than 40 million items from over 6,000 sellers on Walmart Canada’s Marketplace. He joined Walmart Canada in July 2015 and has held senior positions including VP of strategy and senior VP of fresh, grocery and consumables. The company said he also initiated omnichannel integration within merchandising. Before coming to Walmart, Duray worked at global food retailer Ahold Delhaize and in management consulting at Accenture.

Meanwhile, Bayliss takes on a newly created position as executive VP and transformation officer, Walmart Canada said. In that role, he will drive the strategy, innovation, corporate development, new store format, real estate and transformation agenda for the company. He previously served as senior VP logistics and supply chain, a role in which he led a transformation within the supply chain team focused on safety, engagement, performance and service to our stores and customers, including innovative projects on automation, blockchain, fleet electrification and artificial intelligence. Prior to joining Walmart Canada, Bayliss worked for over 16 years at The Boston Consulting Group and was a core member of its global retail leadership, serving retail clients in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Europe and Australia.

“Walmart is known for its excellent people. I am extremely proud and excited for what Nabeela, Sam, Laurent and John will offer our customers as we continue to modernize and transform our business,” Walmart Canada President and CEO Horacio Barbeito said in a statement. “Walmart is also a great place to build a career. We recognize and promote great talent.”

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