Target Picks PepsiCo Executive as Its Next CEO, WSJ Says

Target Corp. is hiring PepsiCo Inc. executive Brian Cornell as its chief executive officer, the Wall Street Journal reported today. PepsiCo confirmed that Cornell resigned effective yesterday and didn’t say where he’s headed.

The 55-year-old will step into the role vacated after Gregg Steinhafel left the U.S. retailer in May, the newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information. PepsiCo said today that Cornell notified the beverage maker of his intention to quit on July 27.

Steinhafel was ousted in May after a massive hacker attack and a botched expansion into Canada. Even before the data breach, which exposed the personal information of millions of customers, Target had lost its way by becoming too cautious and bureaucratic, interim CEO John Mulligan said in an interview that month.

Eric Hausman, a spokesman for Minneapolis-based Target, and Jeff Dahncke, for Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo., didn’t respond to e-mails and phone messages left after regular business hours, before PepsiCo issued a statement today.

Target shares have slipped 3 percent this year, compared to a 0.8 percent drop in Sears Holdings Corp., which owns Kmart, and a 6.6 percent improvement in the S&P 500 benchmark.

Cornell took over as chief executive of PepsiCo Americas Foods in March 2012, running the company’s largest division with $25 billion in revenue from selling brands including Frito-Lay and Quaker, according to PepsiCo.’s website. He previously worked as the president of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Sam’s Club discount warehouse chain.


Steinhafel, who was Target’s CEO for about six years, held himself personally responsible for the security attack. About 40 million credit- and debit-card numbers, along with 70 million addresses, phone numbers and other pieces of information, were captured by the malware attack on the company’s 1,797-store network during last year’s holiday shopping season.

Recovery efforts generated $26 million in expenses during the first quarter, with $8 million of those costs getting covered by insurance. Standard & Poor’s cut Target’s debt rating in March, citing the data breach and losses at the Canadian unit.

Since Mulligan took over as interim CEO at Target, he hired a top data-security executive and moved the company’s entire leadership team to the 26th floor of its headquarters in Minneapolis, allowing for faster decisions and more clarity, he said in a memo to employees.

Target also is scaling back on its four governance meetings, which have focused on the supply chain, marketing, design and capital expenditures. The Target veteran even changed the name of the executive committee to the “leadership team.”

He also reworked the baby, electronics, toys and clothing sections because presentations had become stale, he said.

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