Andy Dunn, the founder of menswear site Bonobos which sold to Walmart in 2017 for $310 million, is now parting ways with the retail giant. The executive, who joined Walmart as SVP of digital consumer brands at the time of the acquisition, officially announced his departure in a LinkedIn post titled “A Love Letter to Walmart.”
In it, Dunn praises the time he spent with the company and the knowledge he gained while working there. Specifically, he references several of Walmart’s bigger initiatives, including its transformation into an omnichannel retail company serving customers online and offline, without distinction.
This is an area of Walmart’s business that’s been under pressure as the battle with Amazon heats up. A recent report by Bloomberg, for example, highlighted the internal corporate culture clash underway as Walmart’s e-commerce investments impacted stores and thinned margins.
Dunn also referenced Walmart’s growing grocery business, now helping to fuel its online sales, and the development of new Walmart brands like Allswell.
“I learned a lot more about retail transformation in the digital age at the world’s biggest company. I watched our strategy evolve as we uncorked our unique advantages on a new omni playing field – and began to identify where we aren’t just catching up, but where we are winning. The momentum with online grocery pickup opened my eyes: our thousands of supercenters are an asset nobody else has, so let’s use them,” wrote Dunn. “In our digital brands group, that led to development of a strategy built on omni, as we married our talent with the power of Walmart distribution to build brands like Allswell. With my departure, that incubator will now be plugged directly into the Walmart mothership,” he said.
Bonobos is one of several online brands that Walmart has now acquired to fill out its virtual shelves, along with Moosejaw ($51 million), ShoeBuy, Jet.com ($3 billion) and Hayneedle, in addition to Bonobos ($310 million) and ModCloth ($75 million). Dunn’s letter noted the more recent deal to buy plus-sized clothing brand ELOQUII ($100 million) — an example of Walmart’s desire to deliver a better life for its core customers.
Walmart’s acquisition streak has since slowed. It also sold off Modcloth just two years after buying it, to stem the losses from its e-commerce business. Bonobos saw layoffs in 2019, and Walmart’s biggest acquisition, Jet.com, has been folded into the rest of Walmart’s e-commerce operations.
Dunn’s letter also spoke to Walmart’s more controversial decision to fully exit the handgun and handgun ammunition businesses, and ban open-carry in its stores, following the mass shooting in its El Paso store.
“It’s a testament to what kind of company Walmart is that I entered thinking mostly about what I could offer, and ended up being the one who received so much,” said Dunn. “When it comes to making the world a better place, the world’s largest company is, 57 years later, just getting started. It’s a credit to the remarkable teamwork of 2.4 million of the hardest working people on planet Earth, all working together. As Sam said, the fact that we’re all in this together is the secret. At Walmart, it’s hidden in plain sight,” he concluded.
Vox previously reported on Dunn’s departure, citing a source, ahead of the official announcement.
Dunn’s departure will take place in 2020.
Walmart shared the news with its team in an internal memo yesterday. An except from this memo said:
“After more than two years innovating new, incubated brands and bringing on important acquired brands, as an entrepreneur at heart, Andy Dunn has decided now is the right time to take the next steps in his career. During the last two and a half years, Andy’s contributions to the organization have been invaluable. He’s been instrumental in building out and growing Walmart’s proprietary brand portfolio. The DNA of the incubated and acquired brands is now a key part of our strategy, and provides us a brand engine we can plug directly into the enterprise. Andy will remain onboard through January and will work closely with Merchandising and brand leadership to ensure a smooth and successful transition.”