Walmart Combines Real Estate and Central Operations in One Role

(Bloomberg) -- In a push to streamline its sprawling business, Walmart Inc. has added real estate to the responsibilities of one of its top U.S. executives.

Mark Ibbotson, the executive vice president of U.S. central operations at the world’s largest retailer, will take over the company’s realty division, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News. Walmart’s current head of real estate, JP Suarez, will move to the international side of Walmart, where he’ll serve as an executive vice president and chief administration officer.

The company is also aligning the team overseeing its employee training academies with its human-resources division, known internally as the people department. The changes are effective June 2.

Walmart has taken several steps over the past year to reduce the complexity of its operations and reduce costs. That’s included cutting jobs at its Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters, shuttering 63 Sam’s Club warehouses and consolidating its U.S. business down to four divisions from six. It also removed about 3,500 store co-managers, while adding other positions to supervise fast-growing areas like online grocery shopping.

Ibbotson is one of several Britons who’ve risen quickly through Walmart’s management ranks after playing senior roles at Asda, the U.K. chain that Walmart’s now selling to rival J Sainsbury Plc. Another is Judith McKenna, who’s now running Walmart’s international business.

Walmart’s real estate arm includes 3,100 employees and manages a budget of about $8 billion, according to its website. Ibbotson will take over the division in addition to overseeing departments including innovation, employee communication, online grocery pickup and asset protection.

Suarez joined the company in 2004. His new role marks a return to the international business, where he previously served as general counsel and, later, as head of business development. He replaces Scott Price, who left the company in December for a senior role at United Parcel Service Inc.

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