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INTERNATIONAL – Amazon.com has named logistics director Dave Clark as chief executive officer of its retail business.
He will replace Jeff Wilke, a longtime lieutenant to the founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos. Wilke plans to retire in the first quarter of 2021, the company announced in a securities filing.
Clark, 47, will lead Worldwide Consumer, a group that encompasses most of what customers know about Amazon, including the retail website and the growing logistics empire that stores and ships items.
Clark, a seasoned Amazon manager, joined Amazon from business school. Shortly after he was appointed head of logistics in 2013, his first Christmas business season was marked by weather disruptions and logistical bottlenecks. The incident helped convince Amazon to massively expand its ability to move its own goods.
The company moved from dozens of warehouses to hundreds, aided by long-haul trailers, tens of thousands of Amazon-branded vans, and an air cargo fleet – a logistics empire that is now one of the largest in the world. Clark recently monitored Amazon's physical retail presence, including Whole Foods Market stores.
He has become one of Amazon's most recognizable executives, taking to Twitter to post whimsical videos of delivery drivers dancing or to protect the company's reputation from messages criticizing Amazon's practices.
Clark's logistics group has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which skyrocketed orders even though many employees stopped coming to work to take shelter at home. The company hired 175,000 people to meet demand and temporarily prioritized replenishment of in-demand items to exclude some smaller sellers who were dependent on Amazon's warehouse space. The company has been criticized by employees who said Amazon didn't do enough to keep them safe during the pandemic.
53-year-old Wilke has been widely seen as a potential successor to Bezos, so his upcoming retirement comes as a surprise to Amazon watchers. After helping set up the logistics operation, Wilke was named Chief Executive of Global Consumer Business in 2016. In parallel, Andy Jassy was appointed CEO of Amazon Web Services' cloud computing division. This structure made both men natural candidates for Bezos' successor should he step down. Wilke has split his time between Seattle and Los Angeles for the past few years, such a person familiar with his situation.
In an email to employees, Bezos greeted Wilke and named him a tutor for him and all of the company's employees. "Jeff also prepared us to be successful in his absence," wrote Bezos. "I can't think of anyone better suited to take on Jeff's role than Dave Clark."
In the email, Bezos also announced three new members of the S-Team, the group of around two dozen executives who set priorities for companies alongside the CEO. These are Alicia Boler Davis, Vice President, Consumer Compliance, John Felton, Vice President, Global Delivery Services, and Dave Treadwell, Vice President, Ecommerce Services.