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BENTONVILLE, ARK. -- There is nothing quite like the appointment of a new ceo at the world's largest retailer to shift the focus of the retail industry, if only temporarily, away from a fast-approaching and difficult holiday season.
Wal-Mart did just that on the morning of Friday, Nov. 21, when it announced that vice chairman Mike Duke would become only the fourth person in the company's nearly 50-year history to serve as president and ceo. Duke will replace Lee Scott, who will step down as president and ceo on Jan. 31, 2009, ending an often embattled nine-year run in which the company endured considerable criticism and unprecedented change.
"I am looking …