Tar­get CEO: Re­tail still has room to grow

Con­sumer con­fi­dence and com­ing hol­i­day sea­son fu­el­ing his op­ti­mism

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - BUSINESS - Anne D’In­no­cen­zio AP RE­TAIL WRITER See TAR­GET, Page 9A

NEW YORK - Tar­get CEO Brian Cor­nell says he’s op­ti­mistic about the hol­i­day sea­son and con­sumer con­fi­dence, and still sees lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties in re­tail. As all stores head into the cru­cial sea­son, the Min­neapo­lis-based dis­counter he has led since 2014 has been re­vamp­ing its stores, open­ing smaller lo­ca­tions in ur­ban mar­kets and try­ing to of­fer more ex­pert cus­tomer help in ar­eas like food, cloth­ing, and elec­tron­ics.

Re­tail­ers over­all are un­der pres­sure to make the stores more invit­ing and of­fer ex­pe­ri­ences shop­pers couldn’t get on­line, as cus­tomers in­creas­ingly opt for the con­ve­nience of shop­ping on­line.

Tar­get is of­fer­ing new store brands, eight of which will be avail­able for the first time for the hol­i­day sea­son. That in­cludes the much-an­tic­i­pated Heart & Hand by Mag­no­lia, a life­style brand from Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s “Fixer Up­per.”

Tar­get’s also been ex­pand­ing on­line ser­vices in­clud­ing now ship­ping on­line or­ders from 1,400 of its 1,800 stores for faster de­liv­ery. It’s hir­ing 100,000 tem­po­rary work­ers, a 40 per­cent in­crease from last year, to work­ing in its stores, stock­ing shelves or ful­fill­ing on­line or­ders.

Cor­nell spoke re­cently with The As-

so­ci­ated Press about the hol­i­day sea­son and how con­sumers are feel­ing. The in­ter­view was edited for length and clar­ity.

Q: Why do you feel op­ti­mistic about the sea­son?

A: I feel re­ally good. We’ve been work­ing all year to bring our new brand of­fer­ings to life, to bring more value to the guest. We have done a lot of work to reimag­ine stores and move into new neigh­bor­hoods, so the hol­i­day sea­son is where it all comes to­gether.

Q: What’s been the re­ac­tion to Tar­get’s move to add ded­i­cated ex­perts?

A: If you shop beauty today, we have some­one there that can help you, who un­der­stands the cat­e­gory, that’s there to as­sist you and make a de­ci­sion. In ap­parel, there’s some­one who can put to­gether an out­fit for Fri­day night. So the guest re­ac­tion has been re­ally pos­i­tive. I’m ab­so­lutely con­fi­dent that is lead­ing to mar­ket-share im­prove­ments. We’re see­ing sta­bil­ity and im­prove­ments in food and bev­er­age and a big uptick in pro­duce. We now have pro­duce ex­perts.

Q: What’s the state of the con­sumer? A: The con­sumer has been in­cred­i­bly re­silient. I look at the lat­est con­sumer con­fi­dence num­bers. They look re­ally pos­i­tive, and we’re see­ing traf­fic up at the stores. We’re see­ing vis­its (to our) store site grow.

I think we are go­ing into the hol­i­day sea­son with a sta­ble con­sumer en­vi­ron­ment.

Q: Given a rash of lay­offs at stores, do you think the re­tail in­dus­try is still the en­try point into the work­force?

A: We’re a big part of the Amer­i­can econ­omy. Things are chang­ing. There may be dif­fer­ent types of re­tail op­por­tu­ni­ties, whether it is in a store or as a vis­ual mer­chant or work­ing in ful­fill­ment so the jobs may change over time, but there’s lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties.

I still be­lieve that for well-run re­tail­ers that have great fi­nan­cial fun­da­men­tals who are in­vest­ing in the busi­ness, there’s great op­por­tu­nity to take mar­ket share. I am ab­so­lutely de­ter­mined to make sure Tar­get is one of those win­ners.

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