CEO Profile: Michael T. Duke of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Mar. 26, 2012 12:00 am  

Joining Wal-Mart

In July 1995, Duke was hired by Wal-Mart. He held several positions in logistics, distribution and administration. In April 2003, Duke was promoted to president and CEO of Wal-Mart’s U.S. division. Two years later, he was named vice chairman of the international division.

“When I met him, at first I thought, ‘Wow! He runs International at Wal-Mart?’” PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi said in the Fortune article of her first impression of Duke. “And then you sit down with him and you find that this person, who’s very unassuming, is a very, very global thinker, a very worldly person.”

Under Duke’s leadership, Wal-Mart’s international division’s revenue grew from $39.8 billion for the fiscal year that ended in January 2006 to $98.64 billion for the fiscal year that ended in January 2009. The number of its international stores also increased from 2,158 to 3,615 during that period.

Duke is known for his people skills, according to a February 2009 article in Fortune.

“He’s the kind of guy who will put his arm around you and help you through things,” Andy Bond, the head of Wal-Mart’s U.K. division, said in the article. “He told me that decisions are best slept on, and to try to look at things from other people’s perspectives.”


After Duke became CEO in February 2009, expanding Wal-Mart’s global footprint was a top priority.

One of its biggest purchases came in 2010 when it spent $2.2 billion for 51 percent of South Africa’s Massmart. Its international sales continued to grow. Revenue jumped 15.2 percent to $125.9 billion for the fiscal year that ended in January.

It also has tried to beef up its online shopping. Although Wal-Mart doesn’t report its online sales separately, the Internet Retailer, an online retail industry website, estimated Wal-Mart’s online sales were $4.1 billion, making it the sixth-largest online retailer in the U.S.

In 2011, Wal-Mart spent hundreds of millions of dollars buying experienced social media and e-commerce companies to run Wal-Mart’s technology initiatives, including the social and mobile media company Kosmix of Mountain View, Calif., for $300 million.

Under Duke, Wal-Mart continues to grow its total revenue. It shattered its own revenue record for the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31, with $443.85 billion, up 5.9 percent from the previous year. It also was the No. 1 company for revenue on the Fortune 500 list in 2011. The 2012 ranking hasn’t been released yet.



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