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Target Wastes No Time With an Extremely Brief Annual Meeting

Wait—that was it? Target’s annual meeting Wednesday afternoon in Dallas seemed to be over before it really began.

Apparently about 100 shareholders were in the audience for the 30-minute event, which resulted in the reelection of the entire board of directors. Two prominent advisory firms had recommended that seven of the 10 be ousted. Shareholders also didn’t think it was a good idea to separate the roles of chairman and chief executive, and they were fine with the modest executive perk program the company has in place. Moving on.

It’s not as if Target (TGT) didn’t have a lot to talk about: the expensive security breach, the expansion into Canada that lost almost $1 billion last year, not-so-great sales in the U.S. Acknowledged. Moving on.

OK, let’s be fair: Target has never put on a show like Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), which flies in thousands of workers from around the world for a multiday celebration, concluding this year with a four-hour meeting hosted by Harry Connick Jr. All of Wal-Mart’s senior executives gave presentations between songs by Sarah McLaughlin, Robin Thicke, and others. The executives talked to investors afterwards. Wal-Mart’s chief executive, C. Douglas McMillon, even spoke briefly with a protesting worker and the media.

That’s a hard act to follow. And Target’s meeting came at an awkward time. Gregg Steinhafel was fired as chief executive in May, and a search is underway for his replacement. John Mulligan, who was the chief financial officer, is filling in. So far, he has acknowledged that the company needs to move faster and shake off some of its bureaucratic ways. To help, he’s moving all the executives to the same floor at headquarters in Minneapolis.

At the meeting, Mulligan echoed the comments of Roxanne Austin, the interim chairman of the board: “Target is a great company. … Our best days are ahead of us.”

Berfield is a writer for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York. Follow her on Twitter @susanberfield.

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