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Target CEO resigns, says it’s time for new leadership

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(Business News) After a tough year, the CEO of Target is stepping down after 35 years with the company, citing the best of times and worst of times.

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Target’s CEO steps down after more than three decades

Target Chairman, President, and CEO, Gregg Steinhafel offered his letter of resignation today, citing the best of times (fresh food in stores, new store formats, REDcard rollout) and the worst of times (historic recession, massive data breach) as he steps down today.

Steinhafel has spent the last year in the driver’s seat, and over 35 years at the company, most at the executive level. Speculation looms that this move is a result of the massive data breach that compromised credit card and personal information for over 100 million customers, signs of which sources say were ignored by Target to their own peril. Hackers were able to access the company’s in-store card payment processing system through the network of a third party HVAC contractor between Black Friday last year through mid-December.

Banks and credit unions responded by issuing millions of new cards at their own expense, and have sued Target for the losses, but because of banks’ actions, most consumers were not affected.

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You may recall that Steinhafel was the CEO when Target’s website relaunched in 2011 to frequent crashes, missed delivery dates, confusing inventory counts, and so forth, with most calling the e-commerce endeavor a failur. President Steve Eastman resigned shortly after the site’s relaunch.

Steinhafel says it’s time for new leadership

“It has been an honor and a privilege to lead this great brand and work alongside what I believe is the best brand in retail,” Steinhafel said in his resignation letter.

Steinhafel added, “The last several months have tested Target in unprecedented ways. From the beginning, I have been committed to ensuring Target emerges from the data breach a better company, more focused than ever on delivering for our guests. We have already begun taking a number of steps to further enhance data security, putting the right people, processes and systems in place. With several key milestones behind us, now is the right time for new leadership at Target.”

Others stepping up to fill the void

Temporarily, Target CFO John Mulligan will take Steinhafel’s place as the executive search begins, and Boardmember Roxanne S. Austin has been named as interim nonexecutive chair of the board.

“The board is deeply grateful to Gregg for his significant contributions and outstanding service throughout his notable 35-year career with the company,” the company board said in a statement.

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