Brian Cornell Leads Charge To Upgrade, “Reimagine” Target

Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO, Target

Target chairman and CEO Brian Cornell is leading the charge to accelerate the Minneapolis-based retailer’s performance, advancing its digital evolution and delivering on its “Expect More. Pay Less.” promise to guests.

A central part of the plan is “reimagining” the brick-and-mortar: remodeling 1,000 of its 1,800 stores by 2020, and opening more than 130 small-format stores by 2019, many in urban markets. Target also is introducing new store brands, including Heart & Hand by Magnolia, a lifestyle brand from Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.”

“While we are investing heavily in digital, we’re also doubling down on our stores to offer guests an elevated experience, and at the same time ensuring fast, easy pick up for online orders—giving guests every reason to keep coming to Target,” Cornell told attendees at Shoptalk, the industry’s gathering to showcase the latest retail and eCommerce innovations.

Overall, Target has committed $7 billion to refurbish Target’s 1,800 stores and revamp digital operations, including investing in new technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics. But the key to success lies in Target’s workforce of 323,000 people, Cornell told Fortune.

“One of the lessons I’ve learned over the years—it’s easy to design a strategy, but it all comes down to execution and outcomes,” Cornell said. “And ultimately, the plans have to be owned by the team. It always comes down to people.”

Cornell joined Target in August 2014 after more than 30 years in escalating leadership positions at leading retail and global consumer product companies, including three CEO roles and more than two decades doing business in North America, Asia, Europe and Latin America. His past experience includes time as both a vendor partner and a competitor to Target, and he brings insights from those roles to the company today.

He’s No. 37 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies.


Brian Cornell

Age: 58

Year started: 2014

Degrees: BA and graduate degrees from University of California, Los Angeles

Previous position: Pepsico, Divisional CEO

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert
Katie Kuehner-Hebert has more than two decades of experience writing about corporate, financial and industry-specific issues. She is based in Running Springs, Calif.

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