Steinhafel Steps Down as Target Chief

Gregg Steinhafel

Gregg Steinhafel

MINNEAPOLIS-Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s chairman, president and CEO, has resigned effective today, ending his 35-year career with the retailer.

A statement from the Target board of directors, issued today, said Steinhafel and the board mutually agreed to end his tenure after “extensive discussions.” A letter written by Steinhafel to the board obtained by HFN said he has also agreed to step down from Target’s board.

John Mulligan, chief financial officer, has been named interim president and CEO, and Roxanne Austin, a board member, has been appointed interim non-executive chair. Both will serve in these roles until Target picks permanent replacements, the statement said. Steinhafel has also agreed to serve as an advisor during the transition.

Steinhafel’s departure has occurred as the retailer continues its efforts to deal with the data breach of credit-card information from Target customers, which was discovered in December. In his letter to the board, Steinhafel said he had been “committed to ensuring Target emerges from the data breach a better company, more focused that ever on delivering for our guests.

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

“We have already begun taking a number of steps to further enhance data security, putting the right people, processes and systems in place,” he said in the letter. “With several key milestones behind us, now is the right time for new leadership at Target.”

Steinhafel joined Target in 1979 as a merchandise trainee. He rose through the merchandising and operational ranks, and in 1999, he was named the retailer’s president. He became CEO in 2008 and chairman the following year.

In his letter, Steinhafel said he was “particularly proud of the gains we’ve made by introducing fresh food in our stores, unveiling new store formats, enhancing our REDcard credit and debit program, expanding internationally and forging ahead into the digital race.” He also acknowledged some difficult moments which occurred during his leadership, including the Great Recession, a high-profile proxy contest (in which the board fought off an attempt by activist investor Bill Ackman to gain seats on the board for himself and other executives), a slow start for its Canadian stores and the data breach.

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Gregg Steinhafel
John Mulligan