Target CEO Steinhafel Resigns

by Harry Sheff

Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel has resigned, effective immediately, ending a 35-year career with the retailer. His resignation letter to the Target board of directors mentioned the data breach and “A slow start in Canada.”

Gregg Steinhafel

The board has named CFO John Mulligan as interim president and CEO and board member Roxanne Austin as interim non-executive chair. Steinhafel will advise the company during the transition.

“The last several months have tested Target in unprecedented ways,” said Steinhafel in a letter to the board. “From the beginning, I have been committed to ensuring Target emerges from the data breach a better company, more focused than ever on delivering for our guests. We have already begun taking a number of steps to further enhance data security, putting the right people, processes and systems in place. With several key milestones behind us, now is the right time for new leadership at Target.”

Steinhafel joined Target in 1979 as a merchandise trainee. He has been president since 1999 and CEO since 2008.

“The board is deeply grateful to Gregg for his significant contributions and outstanding service throughout his notable 35-year career with the company,” the Target board said in a statement, crediting him for his handling of the data breach, the Canada expansion and “successfully defending the company through a high-profile proxy battle.”

Executive recruiting firm Korn Ferry International has been retained to help with the search for a permanent CEO and while the company has never been lead by an outsider, some observers are speculating that the board will be looking at high-profile candidates like Gap chief Glenn Murphy or Walmart US CEO Bill Simon.

Beth Jacob, Target’s chief information officer during the data breach, resigned in March. She was replaced last week by Bob DeRodes.