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C-suite shakeup at Target: Chief merchant steps down


Photo: Kathee Tesija

Minneapolis -- The transformation of Target Corp. under the leadership of new CEO Brian Cornell continues with the departure of one of its top-ranking executives.

The company announced that Kathryn A. Tesija, executive VP, chief merchandising and supply chain officer, is stepping down and will move into an “advisory role,” effective July 6. The Target veteran is credited with playing a key role in crafting the retailer’s “chic-cheap” or "Tarjay" reputation.

Since Cornell took the ranks of Target last August, he has undertaken sweeping changes, including taking the chain out of its troubled venture in Canada, significantly reducing the headcount at its Minneapolis headquarters, putting a renewed emphasis on key categories and revamping grocery offerings, and, most recently, selling Target’s pharmacy operations to CVS Health. The news that Tesija would step down was not all that surprising as she was regarded as being part of the company's old regime. What's more, Many analysts said she was partially to blame for the sales slump that plagued the chain in recent years, as the once-trendy apparel assortment became dull and uninspiring.

“Over the past several months, Kathee and I have had many discussions about the business and together have decided that it is the right time for her to transition to an advisory role,” stated Cornell. “In this role, she will spend the next several months contributing to key enterprise initiatives and ensuring a smooth transition of her responsibilities. This role is critical to ensuring Target’s future success and we are conducting a comprehensive external and internal search for a new leader.”

Tesij, 52, joined Target in 1986 as a merchandise analyst. She rose into leadership roles and was senior VP of various divisions before being named executive VP of merchandise in 2008.

Tesija will receive an involuntary severance package, similar to the type former CEO Gregg Steinhafel qualified for when he left last year, the Minneapolis StarTribune reported.

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