President shuffle at Toys ‘R’ Us, Walmart and Reitmans

New leaders will helm the retailers as they face increased competition from online players.

Three major retailers are witnessing changes of the guard.

At a time when retailers are facing increased competition from online retailers like Amazon, and looking to enhance their own omnichannel experiences, Toys ‘R’ Us Canada, Walmart Canada and Reitmans have announced changes at the C-Suite table this week.

Toys ‘R’ Us Canada president prepares to depart

The toy retailer has been on a mission to redefine itself ever since its American counterpart filed for bankruptcy in June last year. Now, it will have to continue that work without Melanie Teed-Murch, the 23-year veteran who has been spearheading the efforts as president of the Canadian company.

On Monday, a spokeswoman said Teed-Murch had tendered her resignation to accept a new opportunity that has yet to be disclosed. Her last day will be Sept. 27. The company has not yet disclosed who will succeed her, but Teed-Murch began her stint with the company as a store manager in 1996, moving up the corporate ladder until being named president in September 2016.

Letting consumers know the retailer remained open in Canada following the closure of all 735 U.S. locations in June 2018 has been a focus for Teed-Murch. Toronto-based Fairfax Financial acquired the company’s Canadian operations that month for $300 million, enabling the 82 Canadian stores to remain open. But extensive coverage of the U.S. company’s financial woes presented an issue for the brand, Teed-Murch told strategy last year.

Since then, Toys ‘R’ Us has unveiled a refreshed version of its 1982 jingle that was incorporated into a holiday-timed campaign, and announced plans to invest in building a stronger omnichannel experience by revisiting its in-store strategy and beefing up its mobile and ecommerce platforms. Meanwhile, Toys ‘R’ Us in the U.S. announced earlier this year its intention to reopen stateside stores on time for the 2019 holiday season.

Walmart Canada appoints new president and CEO

Horacio Barbeito has been named the next president of the discount retailer in Canada. He begins in October, pending work authorization.

Barbeito will replace outgoing president and CEO Lee Tappenden, who, after an October transition period, will work in a global sourcing and supplier role until his official departure on Jan. 31 next year.

Barbeito has been with Walmart for nearly 25 years and has held roles in the U.S. and South America, including chief executive of Walmart Argentina and of Walmart Argentina and Chile.

Walmart Canada has made a number of announcements in recent months as it strives to drive customers into its stores during a challenging time for retailers. In May, it opened a new supercentre concept in Toronto’s Stockyards, equipped with a “Fast Lane” self-scanning option for customers, a dedicated Walmart.ca section and integrated third-party retailers and brands, including Freshii and Japanese home and fashion retailer Miniso. The company has also ramped up its environmental efforts, expanded its grocery delivery partnership with San Fancisco-based Instacart, and brought Sleep Country’s Bloom mattresses into two of its stores.

Jonathon Fitzgerald to leave Reitmans

The group president of Reitmans’ Addition Elle and Penningtons banners will be leaving the company on Sept. 13 after two years in the role. In a statement, the company said president and COO Stephen Reitmans will assume Fitzgerald’s responsibilities until a successor is named.

The women’s retailer, which operates 594 stores in Canada, including 115 Penningtons and 80 Addition Elle locations, has announced new retail concepts in recent months. In May, it unveiled a new concept for Addition Elle in Montreal that’s designed to help increase foot traffic through greater product selection and live events, according to Retail Insider. The following month, the company revealed a new Reitmans flagship in Montreal aimed at delivering a more personalized shopping experience, part of a strategy to adapt to evolving consumer needs.

Earlier this month, Toys ‘R’ Us Canada owner Fairfax Financial sold its stake in the clothing retailer for about $22.2 million.