Sam Walton, founder and chairman of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., has relinquished the title of chief executive to his heir apparent, company President David Glass.
But Walton, who will be 70 in March, said: "I will remain as chairman of Wal-Mart and plan to participate and be as active and involved as always, assisting wherever I can throughout the country."
Walton, the driving force behind the nearly 26-year-old discount store chain headquartered in Bentonville, Ark., was not expected to retire any time soon.
He also announced Monday that Jack Shewmaker, 49, was stepping down as vice chairman and chief financial officer of Wal-Mart but that Shewmaker would continue as a member of the board of directors and as a company consultant.
Glass, 52, had held the title of chief operating officer prior to his promotion.
"David has exhibited excellent leadership and management skills during the last four years as president and chief operating officer, and prior to that as chief financial officer for seven years," Walton said in a release. "I am certain he will do an outstanding job as Wal-Mart's chief executive officer in the future."
A Wal-Mart spokesman said Walton was simply broadening Glass' responsibilities.
He said Shewmaker, who joined Wal-Mart 18 years ago, is recognized as one of the top retailing talents in the country. Walton said Shewmaker had decided to leave the company to be with his family.
In other changes announced by Walton:
- Don Soderquist, executive vice president-operations and administration, has been promoted to vice chairman and chief operating officer.
- Al Johnson, executive vice president-merchandise and sales, has been promoted to vice chairman, with responsibility for the Sam's Wholesale division.
- Paul Carter, executive vice president-finance, has been promoted to chief financial officer.
Wal-Mart operates more than 1,200 stores in 24 states, including Wal-Mart, Sam's Wholesale Clubs and Dot Discount Drugstores. It is the nation's third-largest retailer in terms of sales.