Target promoted CFO to new role as the company continues to reshape its business



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NEW YORK — Target is making more executive changes, promoting its Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan to the newly created role of chief operating officer.

Mulligan, who will also be executive vice president, assumes oversight of stores, supply chain and properties as the retailer continues to reshape its management team. Cathy Smith, a seasoned retail executive, was named to replace Mulligan as CFO.

Monday's changes come nearly two months after the Minneapolis retailer said that Kathyrn Tesija, an executive vice president and former chief merchandising and supply chain officer, would shift to a strategic advisory role until she leaves the company in April.

Mulligan and Smith will report to Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell, who since taking over last August has been trying to reinvent Target as a more nimble retail force amid increasing competition from all fronts including online leader Amazon.com. Cornell is investing in e-commerce and expanding Target's small-format stores as it tries to reclaim its position as a "cheap chic" retailer. Target is placing a heavy emphasis on fashion, children's goods as well as products for the home, and it's bringing more organic, natural, gluten-free and locally produced food to its grocery aisles.

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

Mulligan joined Target in 1996 as a financial analyst. He has been CFO since 2012. From May until August last year, he also became interim CEO after the abrupt departure of CEO Gregg Steinhafel amid a major credit card breach and a botched up foray in Canada.

Smith, who formally joins Target on Sept. 1, was CFO at Express Scripts of St. Louis, the nation's largest pharmacy benefits manager. She served in the same position at Wal-Mart international, GameStop and others.

Target has grappled with uneven growth since the Great Recession. Its expansion into basic groceries during the downturn helped to bring in shoppers but it diluted its focus of being a style purveyor. A pre-Christmas 2013 massive credit card breach caused shoppers to flee temporarily, and the company was dragged down by its money-losing operations in Canada.

Cornell has been making big changes to its business. Earlier this year, Target closed the money-losing Canadian operations. In June, it announced that it was selling its pharmacy and clinic businesses to drugstore chain CVS Health for about $1.9 billion. Target customers will gain access to CVS Health Corp.'s pharmacy care programs that help them manage their prescriptions, find low-cost generic drugs and buy specialty medications.

Business is coming back. The company is expected to report its fourth-straight quarter of increases for a key sales measurement when it reports its second-quarter results on Wednesday.

Target Corp.'s shares rose 21 cents, to $79 in late morning trading.

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