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Continuing fallout from last fall's data breach at Target Corp. finally made its way to the top of the executive suite today as the retailer's board of directors announced the immediate departure of Gregg Steinhafel as chairman, president and CEO.
"After extensive discussions, the board and Gregg Steinhafel have decided that now is the right time for new leadership at Target," the board announced in a statement issued Monday morning. John Mulligan, Target’s chief financial officer, has been appointed as interim president and CEO. Roxanne S. Austin, a current member of Target’s board of directors, has been appointed as interim non-executive chair of the board. Both will serve until permanent replacements are named. Steinhafel will serve as an advisor during this transition. The company has retained executive search firm Korn Ferry to help bring a new CEO on board.
Target Will 'Emerge a Better Company'
The announcement comes less than a week after Target appointed a new chief information officer to spearhead technology efforts as the retailer continues to beef up security after a data breach exposed the personal information of millions of Target shoppers late last year. The board's statement noted that Steinhafel "held himself personally accountable" for the breakdown in security and "pledged that Target would emerge a better company," though the incident has apparently cost Steinhafel the opportunity to continue leading Target through the recovery.
The board praised Steinhafel for "significant contributions and outstanding service throughout his notable 35-year career with the company," crediting him for creating "a culture that fosters innovation and supports the development of new ideas." Steinhafel helped Target weather a recession and face challenges with its expansion into Canada, and he successfully defended the company through a high-profile proxy battle, the board noted, adding that the transition is "an opportunity to drive Target’s business forward and accelerate the company’s transformation efforts.”
Minneapolis-based Target Corp. operates 1,916 stores in the United States and Canada.