Grabbing Dayton Hudson By The Throat

Kenneth Macke hopes that he has "absolutely nothing" to do after retiring July 2 as chairman of Dayton Hudson. But Robert Ulrich, Macke's successor, will have his hands full.

Heading Ulrich's agenda: dealing with Dayton's Mervyn's department-store chain. A victim of merchandising errors and overconcentration in the weak California market, it has dragged down Dayton's profits for years. Macke says a turnaround is under way, but there's little evidence of that: Same-store sales at Mervyn's fell 9% in the quarter ended Jan. 29.

Ulrich, 50, proved his mettle as CEO of fast-growing Target Stores unit. Analytical and aloof, he doesn't shy from tough decisions, says Boake Sells, a former Dayton Hudson president: "He always has the business by the throat." At Target, Ulrich already has taken on industry giants Wal-Mart and Kmart in hotly contested urban markets in Texas--and is winning. The key: better-looking stores with trendy apparel and home fashions at discount prices--and lots of them. Last year, Ulrich grchestrated a flashy entry for Target in the Chicago area, opening eight stores in one day.

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