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Target reports holiday sales, leadership changes


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MINNEAPOLIS — Target Corp. on Thursday reported strong sales gains for the November/December holiday sales period, and reiterated its sales and earnings guidance for the full year. The company also announced changes in its executive ranks, including the planned retirement of chief financial officer Cathy Smith.

Target’s holiday sales performance included a 5.7% comparable store sales gain for the combined November/December period. That increase comes on on top of of 3.4% increase in the prior year period. Target said the results reflected strong traffic, positive store comps and comparable digital sales growth of 29%.

“We are very pleased with Target’s holiday season performance, which came on top of really strong results in the same period last year,” Target chairman and chief executive officer Brian Cornell said in a statement. “This performance demonstrates the benefit of placing our stores at the center of every way we serve our guests, including both in-store shopping and digital fulfillment.”

Cornell added that Target expects to comparable store sales gains of about 5% in the fourth quarter, putting the retailer on track to deliver its strongest full-year comparable sales growth since 2005, along with market-share gains across all of its core merchandising categories and double-digit growth in its adjusted earnings per share.

“In 2019, we expect to build on this momentum as we gain further scale in our fulfillment capabilities and deliver profitable growth throughout the year,” he said.

Target said that Smith will continue in her role as chief financial offer until her successor is named, and will then move to an advisory role until May 2020 to ensure a smooth transition. Target is conducting a comprehensive internal and external search for its next CFO and a search firm has been retained to assist in the process.

“On behalf of our Board of Directors and Target’s entire team, I want to thank Cathy for her leadership and valuable contributions since joining the Company in 2015,” Cornell said. “Cathy’s deep expertise and leadership helped usher in strategic change for Target and positioned us for sustainable, long-term growth. I appreciate the role Cathy will continue to play as we identify a successor and manage a seamless transition.”

Smith said that she is proud of the progress Target has made, and is excited about what is in store for the company as she plans for retirement.

“As we look ahead to 2019, Target is in a position of strength and poised to continue building on its momentum,” she said.

Target also announced other executive changes, which will take effect immediately. They are:

  • Stephanie Lundquist, who has served as Target’s chief human resources officer since 2016, has been named president of food and beverage. In this new position for the company, Lundquist will oversee all merchandising and operations for the food and beverage categories, including strategy development and implementation. She will continue to report directly to Cornell and will remain a member of the company’s leadership team.
  • Taking Lundquist’s former post is Melissa Kremer, who had been senior vice president of HR. In her new role as chief HR officer, Kremer will be responsible for the company’s human resources strategy. Kremer, who has been with the company since 2004, has led HR strategy and operations, HR business partnership (including support for Target’s largest commercial businesses) and the talent management functions of recruiting, learning, leadership development and strategic workforce planning. Kremer will join Target’s leadership team and report to Cornell.
  • Katie Boylan, who has been senior vice president of  communications, has been named Target’s chief communications officer. Reporting directly to the CEO, Boylan will now oversee internal communication, corporate and brand communication, public affairs and crisis and issues management. Boylan, who joined Target in 2011, brings 20 years of experience to her new role, including work with multiple national consumer brands.
  • Target chief information officer Mike McNamara will now take on responsibility for the company’s enterprise data analytics and business intelligence team, in addition to his duties leading Target’s technology services. Under McNamara’s leadership, the team will continue to provide data-driven counsel and expertise to enterprise business partners. McNamara joined Target in 2015 after serving in various roles with European-based retailer Tesco and is credited with transforming the retailer’s approach to its information technology strategy, team and operating systems.
  • Chief marketing officer Rick Gomez has been named chief marketing and digital officer. He will now lead Target’s digital team, focusing on personalization, loyalty and the overall shopping experience. Gomez joined Target in 2013 and was named CMO in 2017, with a focus on strengthening Target’s brand positioning and driving the business. Before coming to Target, Gomez held various positions at MillerCoors, PepsiCo and Quaker Oats Co.