Target Taps New CFO, Continues to Reshape Executive Team

MINNEAPOLIS (Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS) -

Target Corp. CEO Brian Cornell took a major step in reshaping the company’s senior leadership Monday by elevating CFO John Mulligan to a new role and reaching outside the firm for a new finance chief.

He tapped Cathy Smith, a former executive for Express Scripts and Wal-Mart, as Target’s chief financial officer, starting Sept. 1.

“As our new CFO, Cathy brings significant business and retail expertise to Target,” Cornell said in a statement. “Her background will be integral to accelerating our long-term growth strategy.”

Smith, 51, is the latest top-level executive Cornell has brought in from outside the company since he became chief executive a year ago, in moves that are remaking a company that in the past was criticized for being too insular.

Cornell is himself the first chief executive at Target to come from outside the company. Since arriving last August, he has tapped Mike McNamara, a former Tesco executive, to be Target’s chief information officer. He also has brought in Anne Dament from Safeway to be a senior vice president of grocery. Jackie Hourigan Rice, Target’s chief risk and compliance officer and a former General Motors executive, was also hired last year during Cornell’s watch.

In addition, the company said on Monday that Mulligan, a longtime Target executive who has been CFO since 2012 and was acting chief executive last year, was promoted to the newly created position of executive vice president and chief operating officer. In this role, he will be in charge of stores, supply chain and properties. Tina Tyler, the company’s chief stores officer and an executive vice president, will report to Mulligan.

The newly created position comes as Cornell has placed a greater emphasis on improving the company’s operations. He told suppliers last week at an annual vendors summit that the retailer needs a lot of improvement in keeping shelves better stocked, and vowed to do a better job on that end.

Supply chain was previously part of the responsibilities of Kathee Tesija, the chief merchandising officer who has recently transitioned into an advisory role with the company as part of the leadership shakeup. Target is in the midst of a comprehensive search to fill her position, which is crucial to the retailer that prides itself on its cheap-chic reputation.

Target spokeswoman Katie Boylan noted that by splitting these two executive positions, Target is separating its merchants from its planners. “That’s meant to build deeper expertise and to allow them to clearly focus and to have greater accountability,” Boylan said.

Mulligan led the company during the tricky transition after the Target board in May 2014 ousted CEO Gregg Steinhafel and reached outside the firm for the first time to hire Cornell as top executive.

“John has unparalleled expertise in Target’s business and I am very pleased that he will be assuming this new leadership position,” Cornell said in a statement. “Bringing together key operations functions under John will put Target on a more progressive path to transformation and help us break down barriers to deliver improvements across our business.”

Both Smith and Mulligan will take part in the conference call Target will host with investors on Wednesday when it reports its second-quarter results.

Last week, Target also announced that it had added two new board directors. Donald Knauss, former CEO of The Clorox Company, and Robert Edwards, former CEO of Safeway, joined the board.