The rising cost of living, driven by inflation, continues to eat into workers’ paychecks.
But Walmart International’s new CEO, Kathryn McLay, aims to help people in the 18 countries her division serves to better afford goods, all while doubling her division’s revenue over the next five years.
“We do have tough inflationary environments where we operate in, but Walmart’s purpose is to save people money every day,” McLay told Fortune’s Ellie Austin while speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. on Tuesday. “Now is a time where we are more than relevant in consumers’ lives.”
McLay, who previously was CEO of Sam’s Club, has a big task ahead of her with Walmart International. Her predecessor, Judith McKenna, who announced her retirement in August, cut Walmart International’s revenue by 21% from 2020 to 2022, partly through strategic exits from markets including Japan and Argentina. At the same time, McKenna also pledged to double Walmart International’s gross merchandising sales to $200 billion within five years.
“It’s wonderful to be able to take over from a strong female leader. Judith did a phenomenal job in really going through and tightening up our portfolio and being clear in the markets where we wanted to play,” says McLay. While McLay said that McKenna set a really ambitious sales goal, she also noted that the goals were set by individual teams at Walmart International.
Despite the inflationary environment, McLay is confident she will be able to meet those goals. “And so there’s strength and there’s merit in them and I don’t see any need to walk back on them.”
McLay already set a solid track record at Sam’s Club. The wholesaler chain, which had previously underperformed in comparison to competitors like Costco and shuttered 63 stores in 2018, saw positive sales growth over the previous nine quarters before McLay’s appointment was announced in August, according to Reuters. Part of that turnaround came from taking a deep look at the brand’s consumers and their needs—through social media.
“I was hungry for information. And so I got onto Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, all of these social media forums and I started to read what consumers were saying about us,” says McLay. “That data brought in immediacy within the organization, just focus on the member and to really be accountable for fixing problems and it was a little bit of a revolution in our company’s culture.”