Underwear and activewear maker HanesBrands has tapped Walmart chief merchandising officer Stephen Bratspies as its new CEO.

Bratspies, who will join the company on 3 August, succeeds Gerald Evans Jr, who announced his plans to retire after a 37-year career at HanesBrands in March.

Bratspies' prior leadership positions at Walmart included executive vice president of general merchandise, executive vice president of food, and senior vice president of marketing. Earlier in his career, he served as chief marketing officer for Specialty Brands, held various management positions at PepsiCo, Inc's Frito-Lay North America division, and was a management consultant with AT Kearney.

"Steve is an experienced global leader, has a strong vision for the future of consumer products businesses, and has an extensive track record of success in senior management roles across a number of critical business disciplines. He has tackled complex business challenges and consistently delivered superior results across a multitude of consumer product categories," says Ronald Nelson, chairman of the HanesBrands board.

"We are confident that Steve is the ideal CEO to lead Hanes forward as we focus on our strong portfolio of consumer brands across the globe, rapid online growth, and strong cash flow model."

Gerald Evans Jr will oversee the leadership transition until August and remain as an advisor to the company through 2021.

HanesBrands reported a net loss of US$7.87m for the first quarter ended 28 March, compared to net income of $81.09m in the prior-year quarter. Net sales were down 17.1% to $1.32bn from $1.59bn last time. It estimates the late-quarter impact of the global coronavirus pandemic reduced revenue by approximately $181m.

The Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based company is ramping up the production of masks and protective garments in response to the pandemic – and said last month the business could become a permanent part of its portfolio