Target Taps PepsiCo Americas for CEO

Aug. 1, 2014
Will Brian Cornell's food roots save Target's grocery initiative?

We gotta hand it to the Wall Street Journal for the perfect summation of this news story: "Target's New CEO Knows Food More Than Fashions."

Brian Cornell gives up being CEO of PepsiCo Americas Foods to become the first outsider to be named CEO of Target Corp., the country's fourth largest retailer – which has a growing interest in groceries. He also will be chairman.

Another headline, this one from USA Today, suggested: "Maybe it's time for Target to rethink food sales."

The appointment was announced July 31, and Cornell takes over the new company on Aug. 12.

Cornell, 55, joins Target with more than 30 years of experience at some of the nation’s leading retail and consumer product companies. He joined PepsiCo in 2012 to head PepsiCo Americas Foods, the corporation's largest division, which essentially includes everything that's not drinkable: Frito-Lay North America, Quaker Foods and all of PepsiCo’s Latin America food and snack businesses. Before that, he was president and CEO of Sam’s Club, a division of Walmart Stores; CEO of Michaels Stores Inc.; and executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Safeway.

"As Target’s new CEO, Cornell’s top priorities will be accelerating the company’s performance and advancing Target’s omnichannel evolution," said a company statement – with that last part meaning various digital shopping initiatives already under way.
He replaces Gregg Steinhafel, who stepped down May 5 when he and the retailer couldn't shake the Christmas shopping credit card data breach. Analysts also say his digital initiatives were not working, the foray into food retailing was stalled and Canadian sales were disappointing.

The Wall Street Journal reported Target will pay Cornell nearly $19.3 million in equity grants for leaving PepsiCo, part of the $1.35 million bonus he would have been eligible for there, a base salary of $1.3 million and a potential $6 million in incentive pay.

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