Walmart grandson plots Europe drive from Carnaby Street

Mark Leftly
Sunday 29 January 2012 01:00
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The cowboy-boot wearing grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton has taken charge of the guns-to-food retailer's European expansion drive.

Steuart Walton, a 30-year-old lawyer from Arkansas, has been working from the group's Carnaby Street offices in London since just before Christmas as he mulls mergers and acquisitions across the Continent.

It is thought that Mr Walton has already taken an interest in problems at the French supermarket chain Carrefour, the world's second-biggest retailer after Walmart.

On Friday, Carrefour was said to be close to hiring a new chief executive after a string of profit warnings wrecked the three-year tenure of the current boss Lars Olofsson.

A source close to Walmart, which owns Asda in the UK, said that Mr Walton would look at moving the US brand into Carrefour stores should the new management decide that disposals are necessary. Walmart has previously tried to crack mainland Europe, buying the German hypermarket chain, Wertkauf, in 1997, selling it on nine years later.

However, as the market stagnates in the US and Asda faces fierce competition in the UK, Walmart has decided mainland Europe is a growth target again.

Last year, Walmart looked to set up an M&A team close to Heathrow airport for easy connections to the US and the Continent. Walmart took offices next to George, Asda's value fashion brand, in Soho, central London, once they became available.

A spokesman said: "Steuart is currently on secondment in the UK as part of his induction into the Walmart business."

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