Incoming Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran has been working at Walmart, the world's largest retailer, since 2011.

Foran, who grew up in Hamilton and Hastings, first joined the American company in its international division and has served in a number of roles, including as president and chief executive of Walmart China, before taking on the role of CEO and president of Walmart USA in 2014.

Air New Zealand this morning announced Foran had been appointed chief executive of the national carrier and will start in the role earlier next year. He will return to New Zealand after 25 years overseas.

READ MORE: • Air NZ names Walmart's Greg Foran as new CEO

Advertisement

The 58-year-old is currently responsible for the performance of Walmart's 46,000 stores and oversees one million staff, he will stay with the company until January 31. He was brought in to turn around the US business, which was struggling with dwindling sales and negative press.

Greg Foran speaks during Walmart's annual shareholders meeting. Photo / Getty Images
Greg Foran speaks during Walmart's annual shareholders meeting. Photo / Getty Images

He is considered second in command of the company after group CEO and president Doug McMillon.

The appointment of the Kiwi was controversial for the proudly American company, which is headquartered in the Bible belt state of Arkansas.

Having seen Foran's performance across other areas of the business, McMillon backed the Kiwi to make a difference - and he hasn't been disappointed.

Walmart's US forth quarter sales in 2019 financial year grew 4.2 per cent, and online sales 43 per cent. The US division posted revenue of US$139 billion ($220b), an increase of US$2.5b. Sales growth within the 2018 and 2019 years were the largest in nine years.

In addition to lifting Walmart sales, Foran has also been integral in combating some of the negative press that has afflicted the company in recent years, such as low staff wages.

One of his biggest recent moves was raising the gun purchasing age at Walmart to 21.

Before joining Walmart, Foran held a number of positions with supermarket operator Woolworths, both in Australia and New Zealand. He is currently based in Fayetteville, but return to New Zealand to take up the job at Air New Zealand.

Advertisement

Foran holds a diploma in management from The Institute of Management in Auckland, and has attended advanced management programmes at Harvard University and the University of Virginia.

The son of school teachers, Foran started his career stacking shelves in a Hamilton supermarket.

He rose through the ranks of Woolworths quickly, becoming a manager at age 20. At 48, he was in line for CEO of the Australian supermarket chain, but missed out on the opportunity and finished up with the company shortly after.

Foran has a daughter and three sons. His middle son, Kieran, is a professional rugby league player who currently plays for the Bulldogs in Australia.

Last year, Foran was reportedly paid US$13.4 million ($21m) as CEO and president of Walmart USA - more than four times what former Air New Zealand Christopher Luxon who resigned in June was paid.

Gregory Stephen Foran
Born: July 22, 1961

Lives: Fayetteville, United States.

Primary education: Twyford School Hastings. Secondary: St John's College, Hastings; St John's College, Hamilton; Hillcrest High School, Hamilton.

Family: Married, one daughter and three sons.