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Target junks retirement policy, CEO Brian Cornell to stay on

The company's board of directors eliminated its standing retirement policy to allow Cornell to remain at the helm past the age of 65.

MINNEAPOLIS — Target is extending its contract with Chief Executive Brian Cornell for three years, and eliminating the Minnesota-based company's standing retirement policy to make it happen. 

Cornell, now 63 years old, would have passed Target's mandatory retirement age of 65 in that span if the policy was not changed. 

“In discussions about the company’s longer term plans, it was important to us as a board to assure our stakeholders that Brian intends to stay in his role beyond the traditional retirement age of 65," said said Monica Lozano, the lead independent director of Target's board.

Lozano credited Cornell with driving a guest-centric, purpose-driven strategy that has led Target through the pandemic and the challenges that came along with it. 

“Being a Target team member has been the high point of my career, and I’m energized about leading the company in the years ahead as we build on the growth we’ve already accomplished,” said Cornell in reacting to his extension. "Our success is fueled by the best team in retail, and I am confident our culture will continue to propel our company forward."

Cornell joined Target in 2014.

The Minneapolis-based chain had been accelerating its online services such as curbside pickup and same-day services while sprucing up its stores well before the pandemic. During the height of the health crisis, Target became a lifeline to millions of people trying to limit their exposure during the pandemic.

The company has also been out front with its investment with workers. It raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2020, a commitment it pledged in 2017 and well ahead of many grocery rivals. Earlier this year, Target adopted minimum wages that range from $15 to $24 an hour, with the highest pay going to hires in the most competitive markets.

But now the company, like other retailers, is trying to navigate tremendous shifts in consumer behavior with the worst of the pandemic in the rear view mirror while it wrestles with soaring prices and rising wages for workers. Target reported solid sales for the fiscal second quarter, but its profit plunged nearly 90% after it was forced to slash prices to clear unwanted inventories of clothing, home goods and electronics.

Before joining Target, Cornell spent more than 30 years in escalating leadership positions at retail and consumer-product companies. His roles included chief marketing officer at Safeway Inc. and CEO at Michaels, Walmart's Sam’s Club and PepsiCo Americas Foods.

The company also announced Wednesday that Arthur Valdez, Target executive vice president and chief supply chain and logistics officer, will retire. Valdez will be succeeded by Gretchen McCarthy, senior vice president, global inventory management.

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