Target Names Retail Veteran Brian Cornell as CEO

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He leaves the top job at PepsiCo Foods to take the spot vacated by Greg Steinhafel in the aftermath of the data breach.

New Target CEO Brian Cornell
New Target CEO Brian Cornell

Target today named Brian Cornell, most recently CEO of PepsiCo Americas Foods, as its chairman of the board and CEO. Cornell's experience in the highest levels of retail management has cut a wide swath, taking in Walmart, Sam's Club, Home Depot, OfficeMax, and Safeway. He is also the first Target chief executive not to have been promoted from within.

“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 chair of the board, in a press release announcing the selection.

Target is also looking for an executive who can re-establish customer trust in the brand, which allowed one of the most devastating data breaches in history, affecting an estimated 110 million consumers during the last holiday season. The incident led to the board's dismissal of long-time CEO Greg Steinhafel in May.

Aside from his stint at PepsiCo, the 55-year-old Cornell has spent most of his professional life in the retail sector. In the early 2000s he served as CEO and president of Sam's Club, CEO of Michaels Stores, and CMO of Safeway. He also served on the boards of directors of Home Depot and OfficeMax.

“I am honored and humbled to join Target as the first CEO hired from outside the company,” Cornell stated in the release. “I am committed to empowering this talented team to realize its full potential, lead change, and strengthen the love guests have for this brand.”

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