Walmart Inc (WMT) is bringing in the big guns in its grocery delivery war with Amazon.com. (AMZN)
The retailer’s Jet.com business has tapped the executive who oversaw British retail giant Tesco’s successful grocery delivery push to be its new head, Walmart eCommerce CEO Marc Lore told staff on Monday in a memo. Reuters first reported the news.
Simon Belsham, who spent seven years at Tesco, Britain’s largest chain, will be in charge of all operations beyond grocery, including general merchandise, at Jet.com, and will become part of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce executive team. Walmart bought Jet.com in 2016 for $3.3 billion in a bid to kickstart its e-commerce efforts and better compete with Amazon, and recruited Lore to head its U.S. e-commerce. Belsham replaces Liza Landsman, who recently left the company, as president of Jet.com.
Walmart recently told investors it would shift some of its spending to Walmart.com from Jet.com but it is clear that Jet remains a key component of Walmart’s grocery plan. Jet, which has launched some of its own private brands, is particularly popular with younger and urban shoppers, two demographics Walmart needs to win over to a greater extent if it wants to take business from Amazon.
“With Jet grocery being an integral part of the strategy, Simon brings incredible experience in scaling grocery delivery and his unique background in converging technology and retail,” Lore said in his message to staff.
Walmart recently announced it was bringing grocery delivery to 100 U.S. cities by year end in addition to the 2,200 stores at which customers can drive through to pick up an online grocery order.
At Tesco, Belsham built an online grocery capacity in Britain and other markets in Central Europe. He also built a general merchandise platform for Ocado, a British online store. His most recent job was as CEO of Notonthehighstreet.com, a venture capital backed online retailer.
In its most recent quarter, Walmart’s online sales rose 23%, a slowdown in growth that alarmed investors but that the company attributed to the law of big numbers as well as some operational snafus during the holiday season. The company expects online growth to rise back up to 40% this year.