Michael J. Bender (l) and Doug Barnes Jr.
DALLAS—Eyemart Express here has named former Walmart executive Michael J. Bender as president and chief executive officer, effective Jan. 1, 2018. Doug Barnes Jr., the former chief executive officer of the optical retailer, is now serving as the chairman of Eyemart Express, according to a recent announcement.

Bender most recently served as chief operating officer of Walmart's Global eCommerce business.

Under the leadership and guidance of Barnes, Eyemart Express has recruited a new executive team and successfully completed a change in ownership that saw the optical retail company move from private family ownership to the portfolio of a private equity firm, FFL Partners.

Barnes said Eyemart Express is “honored to have Michael join our executive team. We have spent the last two years rounding out our leadership team, and Michael's long record of retail experience and leadership style made him an ideal fit for Eyemart Express. We are confident that he will continue the momentum we established in providing a convenient and quality eyecare solution for our customers nationwide,” Barnes added in a statement.

Bender has a comprehensive manufacturing, retail and health care background with more than 30 years of experience developing high-caliber work teams, optimizing supply chain operations and leading strategic growth in stores and online. His career includes positions with some of the leading brands in the world, including Walmart, Cardinal Health, Victoria's Secret Stores and PepsiCo.

Another recent addition to the Eyemart Express executive team is Paula Puleo Blomquist, who has taken on the role of chief marketing officer. Blomquist previously was chief innovation officer/chief marketing officer at Academic Partnerships (AP), which helped non-profit universities move their advance degree programs online. She also is a former executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Michaels Stores, where she created and executed a multi-channel marketing plan that drove brand awareness and differentiation for the 1,500-store retail chain.

On the operations side, one of the first moves Eyemart Express has taken under Bender’s leadership is an expansion into the Wichita, Kan., market, where the retailer opened its first store earlier this year.

Eyemart Express operates 178 stores in 35 states under the Vision4Less, VisionMart Express and Eyewear Express brands. The company ranked 10th in Vision Monday’s 2017 Top Retailers Report, based on sales of $245 million in 2016.