“This transition demonstrates Walmart’s commitment to long-term succession planning and keeping high calibre, capable leaders at the head of our company,” the 70-year-old Walton said on Friday.
Penner, 45, is married to Carrie Walton, daughter of Rob Walton and granddaughter of Sam Walton, the founder of the world’s largest retailer. Rob Walton has been Walmart’s chairman since 1992 and will retain a seat on the board.
“I’ve admired this company since my first Saturday morning meeting more than two decades ago,” Penner said. “I believe in its mission and the positive role it plays throughout the world.” Walmart operates 11,489 stores in 27 countries, employing 2.2 million people to serve 260 million customers a week.
The company’s earnings dropped 7 percent in the first quarter of its 2016 fiscal year, to $3.3 billion, while sales fell 1 percent to $115 billion. Shares of Walmart, a Dow Jones component, have declined 13.9 percent on the New York Stock Exchange so far this year.