Target has announced that it will fill its open CEO slot with Brian Cornell, currently CEO of the Americas Foods division of PepsiCo. In his current role, which he assumed in March 2012, Cornell overseas the Quaker, Frito-Lay and all of the Latin American businesses. Cornell replaces Greg Steinhafel, who stepped down in May as a result of the cyber-security debacle in December.
With a total of more than 10 years at Pepsico, Cornell, 55, was one person being groomed for the corner office at the soft drink company to eventually replace Pepsi’s current CEO Indra Nooyi, according to The Wall Street Journal.
With weak year-long sales, fixing Target’s tattered reputation is not the only challenge Cornell will be facing as he assumes his new position.
“Brian Cornell is a proven and trusted retailer,” says Joseph M. Pastore, Jr., Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus in Residence at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business in New York. He’s seen Target from the outside, as a partner and supplier, “and now he has the chance to manage it from the inside.”
Pastore doesn’t anticipate major strategic change under Cornell’s leadership, however. “That’s not because he cannot do it. It’s more because strategic change among major retailers comes slowly. What they sell is mostly what’s been sold for decades. How they sell is where change occurs and that is not likely to happen until Target is returned to more stable fundamentals.”
“Cornell will play an important turnaround and organizational transformation role,” says Pastore. However, “If major strategic change is to occur, I think it will be led by Cornell’s successor who Target no doubt hopes will inherit a stronger Target thanks to Cornell’s efforts.”
Cornell’s three years at rival Wal-Mart, prior to his tenure at PepsiCo, likely played a role in his hire, and will serve him well in this new leadership role as he looks to rebuild this torn and tattered brand.