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Bloomberg reports that Walmart has named Mitchell Slape as CEO of its Massmart Holdings unit in South Africa, succeeding Guy Hayward at a time when the division’s earnings are expected to drop by as much as 50 percent.

Slape has a long Walmart career, having held executive roles in Japan, India and Mexico.

The story points out that “Walmart bought a majority stake in Massmart in 2011 for 16.5 billion rand ($1.2 billion) to tap into rising African consumer spending, but things haven’t quite worked out that way. Massmart is contending with falling sales at some retail outlets amid a slowdown in the continent’s most-industrialized economy and stubbornly high unemployment.

“Rising taxes, fuel costs and other bills have also dented South African consumer confidence. Current economic data and sentiment suggest that there’s no immediate signs of improvement, Massmart said in a statement on Thursday.”
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