Tar­get exec has high hopes for hol­i­days

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Anne D’Innocenzio AP Re­tail Writer

NEW YORK >> Tar­get is hop­ing to have a bright hol­i­day by em­pha­siz­ing low prices as well as high­light­ing pri­vate-brand clothes and home goods and splurges for the sea­son.

It’s the first hol­i­day sea­son at Tar­get for Mark Trit­ton. He be­came chief mer­chan­dis­ing of­fi­cer, mean­ing he’s in charge of what’s on the shelves, in June af­ter join­ing the dis­count re­tailer from Nord­strom.

Tar­get strug­gled over the sum­mer, in part by not fo­cus­ing on the sec­ond part of its “Ex­pect More, Pay Less” slo­gan. But busi­ness im­proved in the third quar­ter and Tar­get raised its out­look for a key sales fig­ure for the hol­i­day pe­riod. The Min­neapo­lis-based re­tailer is count­ing on draw­ing cus­tomers with the sea­sonal Won­der­shop, in ad­di­tion to its hot chil­dren’s cloth­ing brand Cat & Jack and a kid’s home col­lec­tion called Pil­low­fort. In food and bev­er­age, it’s dou­bling its as­sort­ment of craft beer from last year. With most of the hol­i­day mer­chan­dise or­dered be­fore he came to Tar­get, Trit­ton has been in­volved in putting to­gether how the dis­counter mar­kets its prod­ucts and prices them.

Trit­ton, known for his suc­cess with Nord­strom’s pri­vate la­bels, talked with The As­so­ci­ated Press about the hol­i­day sea­son.

His an­swers were edited for length.

Q

: How did you par­lay your ex­pe­ri­ence at Nord­strom to Tar­get?

A

: We’re find­ing com­mon ground in that it’s about brands. It’s about gifts. It’s about putting all the pieces of the puz­zle to­gether. What’s dif­fer­ent is our guests. And so I’ve been for­tu­nate to have great ex­pe­ri­ences to get to know our guests and to find out more about them by div­ing into the ex­ten­sive data about what we have about them ... down to hav­ing real ex­pe­ri­ences with guests. (In Chicago), I got to go to homes and talk to fam­i­lies and play board games with kids to un­der­stand what the joy of games was.

Q A

: What are the big hol­i­day trends?

: All times you have that great af­ford­abil­ity and great value. But there is a lit­tle bit of glitz, from the se­quined dresses to the gold sil­ver trims in the home dec­o­ra­tions. We’re re­ally ex­cited about ex­tend­ing our fran­chise in “Star Wars.” I re­ally love the work we are do­ing with Our Gen­er­a­tion (col­lectible) dolls. We are see­ing games con­tin­u­ing. I like the fact that tra­di­tional toys and new tech­nol­ogy are in the mix.

Q

. What has been your in­flu­ence this hol­i­day sea­son?

A

. Ku­dos to the team. They’re the ones who put to­gether a fan­tas­tic hol­i­day pe­riod.

W

hat I’ve done is come in as a sort of ar­chi­tect of the to­tal Tar­get point of view and say, how can we stream­line how we com­mu­ni­cate great prod­ucts and our great value to our guests in a more mean­ing­ful way? What do we re­ally want to am­plify and share with joy?

Q

: Has the po­lit­i­cally di­vi­sive en­vi­ron­ment af­fected shop­pers’ be­hav­ior?

A

: We haven’t seen any dis­cern­able trend. I think re­gard­less of the po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment, guests have the reg­u­lar beat in their lives.

Q

: What’s one thing you’re do­ing to drive traf­fic in food?

A

: We’re do­ing more sam­pling (of food). It cre­ates a high level of en­gage­ment.

Q

: What makes you con­fi­dent about hol­i­day shop­ping?

A

: I think the as­sort­ment is re­ally spec­tac­u­lar. I re­ally love what we’ve done for our mar­ket­ing cam­paign. I feel good about our in-stock po­si­tion. And Won­der­shop is off to a fan­tas­tic start.

Q A

. How do you get in­spired?

. I read a ton of web­sites. I shop a ton of web­sites to look at what’s go­ing on. I’m a mag­a­zine junkie on the week­end. I have a pas­sion for prod­uct and a pas­sion for in­for­ma­tion. I travel a lot. I get stim­u­lated a lot by com­peti­tors whether I am in New York, or L.A. or Chicago or Lon­don. I keep that juice in my en­gine at all times.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mark Trit­ton, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and chief mer­chan­dis­ing of­fi­cer for Tar­get, dis­cusses some of the hol­i­day prod­ucts to be of­fered by the re­tailer in New York.

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