Walmart boss to head Air New Zealand

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October 11, 2019
Air New Zealand Foran CEO
The new chief executive of Air New Zealand, Greg Foran. Photo: AIrNZ

The head of US-discount chain Walmart named as Air New Zealand’s new chief executive has vowed to keep the carrier at the forefront of the industry.

Kiwi expatriate Greg Foran will be returning to the Land of the Long White Cloud and will take the helm of the New Zealand carrier in the first quarter of 2020.

Foran, who grew up in the New Zealand towns of Hasting and Hamilton,  said he was privileged to have been given the opportunity to grow an iconic and critical New Zealand company and brand on the global stage.

“I am an incredibly proud Kiwi and to be given the job of nurturing and building on the legacy of an iconic company that represents the best of our nation at home and around the world really excites me,” he said.

“Air New Zealand is deservedly recognized as one of the world’s great airlines and I look forward to working alongside its people to take it to the next level.”

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Foran said the passion AirNZ staff had for the business and their level of customer focus was a competitive advantage on which he wanted to build.

“Air New Zealand is immensely important across many spectrums, from not just timely and convenient travel but also to tourism and the environment, community support and innovation, to name but a few,” he said.

“I want Air New Zealand to continue to be at the forefront of its industry across the world and to deliver strong commercial results in the process.”

Currently the president and chief executive of Walmart US, Foran has been responsible for the strategic direction of the retail company’s 4600 stores and more than 1 million staff.

He took up the role in 2014 and led a transformation of the business based on Walmart’s everyday low price, everyday low-cost principle that saw the company achieve multiple quarters of sales growth.

He is credited with making the stores cleaner and easier to shop and investing heavily in cutting costs on everyday items.

The Wall Street Journal described him as a “detail-oriented boss who worked long hours and often took other executives with him on a company plane on Saturdays to visit stores”.

It said he focused at Walmart on reducing inventory in stores, more consistently stocking shelves, improving customer service and cutting store labor to invest in projects such as online grocery delivery.

Foran joined Walmart International in 2011 after working for Woolworths in Australia and New Zealand and served in a number of capacities, heading both Walmart China and Walmart Asia,

Air New Zealand Chairman Dame Therese Walsh predicted he would be an outstanding leader of the airline.

“We are thrilled to have attracted a world-class Kiwi back home,” she said.

“Greg has an impeccable track record in delivering strong commercial performance, outstanding customer focus and in building teams that can take a business to the next level.”

Commentators in New Zealand welcomed the appointment.