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In the latest step of an ongoing effort at Target Corp. to reboot the company’s top brass and build a stronger infrastructure in the wake of last year's highly publicized data breach, the retailer's board of directors has named Brian Cornell as its next chairman and CEO.
Cornell joins Target with more than 30 years of experience at some of the nation’s leading retail and consumer product companies. As Target’s new CEO, Cornell’s top priorities will be accelerating the company’s performance and advancing Target’s omnichannel evolution.
Picking up the reins from interim boss John Mulligan, Cornell is the permanent replacement for Gregg Steinhafel, who left the top post in May but has stayed on as an advisor during the transition of power.
Brings CPG Experience
Cornell most recently served as CEO of PepsiCo Americas Foods, where he oversaw the company’s global food business, the largest of PepsiCo’s four divisions. He was responsible for a portfolio that included Frito-Lay North America, Quaker Foods and all of PepsiCo’s Latin America food and snack businesses. Before joining PepsiCo in 2012, Cornell served as president and CEO of Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Cornell also held the position of CEO at Michaels Stores Inc., and prior to that, EVP and chief marketing officer for Safeway.
“As we seek to aggressively move Target forward and establish the company as a top omnichannel retailer, we focused on identifying an extraordinary leader who could bring vision, focus and a wealth of experience to Target’s transformation,” said Roxanne S. Austin, interim non-executive chairman of the board. “The board is confident that Brian’s diverse and broad experience in retail and consumer products as well as his passion for leading high performing teams will propel Target forward.”
Cornell brings strong credentials from both sides of the fence, retailing and packaged goods, noted Sandy Skrovan, U.S. research director at Planet Retail. "He is very well-respected. He turned things around at Sam’s Club during his three-year stint there from 2009-2012," she said. “Target needed to land a big fish to turn things around and set a future course for the country’s fourth-largest retailer. And it hooked a big one."
Now, with Target, which operates 1,925 stores across the United States and Canada, "the priorities become setting a vision for future growth, restoring shopper confidence in the retailer on both sides of the border and rallying the troops – from boardroom to stockroom – to get the job done and move Target forward," Skrovan said. "A tall order indeed, but I’m sure Cornell is up to the challenge.”
Cornell is the latest new executive to join the Minneapolis-based retailer since last fall's data breach that exposed the personal information of millions of Target shoppers. Since then, Target has hired a new chief information officer and information security officer, and formed a digital advisory council.
“I am honored and humbled to join Target as the first CEO hired from outside the company," Cornell said. "I am committed to empowering this talented team to realize its full potential, lead change and strengthen the love guests have for this brand. As we create the Target of tomorrow, I will focus on our current business performance in both the U.S. and Canada and on how we accelerate our omnichannel transformation.”
Cornell earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and attended the Anderson Graduate School of Management. He currently serves on the board of visitors at the Anderson Graduate School of Management, as well as the board of directors at Polaris Industries.