Although the timing of the decision will raise concern on the performance of the business this summer, the actual candidate looks to be the right person at the right time for the job.
Thursday, Target announced that it has tapped former Sam's Club (a division of Walmart (WMT)) President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Cornell as its first outside leader of the company. Effective Aug. 12, eight days before Target's second-quarter earnings release, Cornell takes over the reins from interim chief executive officer John Mulligan, who has led the retailer since the departure of Gregg Steinhafel on May 5. Target made no mention regarding Mulligan's status with the company following the arrival of Cornell in August.
Cornell joins Target, which my firm Belus Capital Advisors rates a sell due to material risks from the Canadian business, from a recent two-year plus stint at PepsiCo (PEP), where he was in charge of the Americas Food division.
Although not the proverbial sexy choice with a strong background in the apparel industry, Cornell is a solid appointment for this stage in the history of the Minneapolis-based retailer. Here are five reasons why.
Battle tested: Cornell was announced to his post at Sam's Club literally at the bottom of the stock market on March 9, 2009. Cornell witnessed firsthand how consumers increasingly demanded value at every corner of a retail store. Operating in that climate gives Cornell unique insight as to what is required to reignite Target's weak store traffic and stagnant top and bottom lines. Traffic to Target stores, per Bloomberg, last increased (2%) in the first quarter of 2012, and has declined in six consecutive quarters.