Minneapolis -- Target Corp. announced on Monday that CEO and president Gregg Steinhafel, a 35-year-company-veteran, had resigned, effective immediately. The news comes nearly five months after the retailer disclosed a massive data breach that damaged its reputation among customers and has derailed its business.
Target CFO John Mulligan will lead the company on an interim basis until a replacement is named. Steinhafel will serve as an advisor during the transition.
"Today we are announcing that, after extensive discussions, the board and Gregg Steinhafel have decided that now is the right time for new leadership at Target," the company said in a statement posted on its website Monday. (The full statement is posted below.)
In a letter to the board of directors, posted to Target's website Monday, Steinhafel said: "The last several months have tested Target in unprecedented ways. From the beginning, I have been committed to ensuring Target emerges from the data breach a better company, more focused on delivering for our guests."
Industry experts said Steinhafel’s departure is a signal that the company is trying to start fresh as it continues to deal with fallout from the data breach. His resignation comes two months after the resignation of CIO Beth Jacob. Last week, Target named IT veteran Bob DeRodes as its new CIO.
Steinhafel's tenure as CEO has not been all smooth sailing. The company has struggled with its expansion into Canada and also has seen uneven sales since the recession. A bright spot under Steinhafel's leadership, however, has been the chain’s expansion into fresh foods and groceries and the success of its branded credit-card program.
Here is the full statement from Target regarding Steinhafel:
“Today we are announcing that, after extensive discussions, the board and Gregg Steinhafel have decided that now is the right time for new leadership at Target. Effective immediately, Gregg will step down from his positions as Chairman of the Target board of directors, president and CEO. John Mulligan, Target’s chief financial officer, has been appointed as interim president and chief executive officer. Roxanne S. Austin, a current member of Target’s board of directors, has been appointed as interim non-executive chair of the board. Both will serve in their roles until permanent replacements are named. We have asked Gregg Steinhafel to serve in an advisory capacity during this transition and he has graciously agreed. The board is deeply grateful to Gregg for his significant contributions and outstanding service throughout his notable 35-year career with the company. We believe his passion for the team and relentless focus on the guest have established Target as a leader in the retail industry. Gregg has created a culture that fosters innovation and supports the development of new ideas. Under his leadership, the company has not only enhanced its ability to execute, but has broadened its strategic horizons. He also led the company through unprecedented challenges, navigating the financial recession, reacting to challenges with Target’s expansion into Canada, and successfully defending the company through a high-profile proxy battle. Most recently, Gregg led the response to Target’s 2013 data breach. He held himself personally accountable and pledged that Target would emerge a better company. We are grateful to him for his tireless leadership and will always consider him a member of the Target family. The board will continue to be actively engaged with the leadership team to drive Target’s future success and will manage the transition. In addition to the appointments of the exceptional leaders noted above, we have also retained Korn Ferry to advise the board on a comprehensive CEO search. The board is confident in the future of this company and views this transition as an opportunity to drive Target’s business forward and accelerate the company’s transformation efforts.”