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Target Interim CEO Pushes Comeback Over ‘Caretaker’ Role

Target Interim CEO John Mulligan
John Mulligan, then chief financial officer of Target Corp., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 4, 2014. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Target Corp. interim Chief Executive Officer John Mulligan, who took the job from Gregg Steinhafel yesterday, said his top priority is improving financial results in the wake of last year’s data breach and sales slump.

While Mulligan has no plans to vie for the permanent CEO job, he doesn’t want to serve merely as a placeholder for the next leader, according to an interview today. Mulligan is sharing Steinhafel’s former duties with board member Roxanne Austin, who became interim chairwoman yesterday.

“We are not in caretaker mode,” said Mulligan, who took the job after serving as chief financial officer. “We need to run the business and move it forward. We are going to deliver financial results.”

Mulligan said he met with top executives yesterday and told them that being an interim CEO doesn’t mean he would be idle. He will focus on turning around the chain’s struggling Canada division as well as improving its digital operations, including mobile shopping.

The shares fell 3.7 percent to $57.64 at the close in New York, for a two-day drop of 7.1 percent since Target announced the CEO change before the market opened yesterday.

Mulligan declined to comment on whether the breach is still hurting sales. The chain blamed the decline in fourth-quarter revenue on the security failure that led to the theft of credit card data of 40 million customers.

The company continues to review its security apparatus and make improvements, Mulligan said. He tried to reassure customers by saying they can now shop with confidence at the chain.

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