updated 12/6/2004 10:59:14 AM ET 2004-12-06T15:59:14

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. vice chairman Tom Coughlin, whose responsibilities include overseeing Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club warehouse stores, is retiring as an employee of the world’s largest retailing company in January, the company announced Monday.

Coughlin, 55, who has been with Wal-Mart for more than 25 years, will leave Jan. 24, the company said. His term on the Wal-Mart board runs through June 2005. He has been vice chairman and a board member since April 2003.

Wal-Mart has seen disappointing sales since the day after Thanksgiving, but company spokesman Jay Allen said the results had not bearing on Coughlin’s departure.

“There is absolutely no connection at all,” Allen said. “It is important to us that he is staying with us through the holiday season.”

Allen said Coughlin has trained a team to continue his duties.

“Tom has worked in so many different areas of retail that he understands the business and has developed a talent for breaking challenging retail issues into simple solutions,” Wal-Mart president and chief executive Lee Scott said.

Coughlin joined Wal-Mart in 1978 in the company’s security division. Coughlin was hospitalized in late 2003 for 10 days for treatment for an arterial blockage.

In a statement, Coughlin said, “It is simply the right time for me to move on.”

The company did not name a replacement, instead saying that Wal-Mart’s senior management team will take on Coughlin’s duties.

Allen said Coughlin plans to spend time traveling with his family and hunting. He said Coughlin has some business interests, as well.

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