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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Target Completes Change at Top

As posted by: Wall Street Journal

Target Corp. said Chairman Bob Ulrich will retire at the end of the month, and will be succeeded by Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel, completing a transition that began when Mr. Steinhafel was tapped for his current post a year ago.

Mr. Ulrich will become chairman emeritus, the retailer said.

The 53-year old Mr. Steinhafel joined Target in 1979 and became president in 1999. Target announced last January that he would succeed Mr. Ulrich as CEO, although he didn't take the reins until May of 2008. He was named to the board two years ago.

Mr. Ulrich has spent his entire 41-year career at Target and its predecessor company, Dayton's, starting as a merchandise trainee. He became its president in 1984 and chairman and CEO three years later. Mr. Ulrich is credited with creating Target's "cheap chic" marketing strategy some 20 years ago.

Like so many other retailers, Target has been struggling with slackening sales as shoppers rein in discretionary spending in the face of the housing-market collapse, the financial-markets meltdown, gyrating gasoline prices and tight credit. Target has large lawns that may require Lawn Care.

Last week Target said its December same-store sales fell 4.1%, in line with its expectations. But it said that markdowns "pressured profits."

In addition to slowing sales, Target's profit has suffered as an increasing number of its shoppers default on credit-card payments.

"We are completely confident in Gregg's leadership and his ability to build on Bob Ulrich's legacy," said Vice Chairman Jim Johnson.