Looking to replace CEO Mike Duke, mega retailer Wal-Mart is said to have narrowed down their choices to two, a source “familiar with the situation” told Bloomberg News. The source told Bloomberg that Duke won’t step down immediately, but a replacement can be expected in the coming months.
And the candidates? According to the source, Wal-Mart is interviewing two internal candidates: international chief Doug McMillon and U.S. executive Bill Simon. Duke, who took over in 2009, was an inside hire himself–he’d been with Walmart since 1995. McMillon joined Wal-Mart as a summer hire in 1984, and Simon joined in 2006.
The new CEO may indicate where Wal-Mart’s priorities are–at home, or abroad. While McMillon has been responsible for spearheading the brand’s international expansion, Simon has been much lauded for his work to bring U.S. consumers back in stores.
Wal-Mart has struggled during the U.S. recession, as its low-income customers have been among the hardest hit by unemployment, and many former U.S. customers have turned to online retailers like Amazon.com. If Simon becomes CEO, it may signal Wal-Mart’s desire to fight back against online competition, and to focus on domestic growth.
McMillon, who has overseen Wal-Mart’s international operations since 2009, has worked to boost sales in Brazil and China, relaunching the company’s “everyday low price” campaigns. If McMillon is tapped, Wal-Mart may be redoubling its efforts to expand internationally. Wal-Mart has recently face bribery allegations in Mexico; an internationally experienced CEO like McMillion may be better equipped to handle these charges.