Courtesy of Target

The discount retailer's chief merchant is leaving, in the latest shakeup by Target CEO Brian Cornell

By Phil Wahba
June 25, 2015
June 25, 2015

Target TGT announced on Thursday that the discount retailer’s second-in-command would be stepping down, in the latest shakeup by CEO Brian Cornell.

Kathryn Tesija, a 29-year veteran of Target, has been the retailer’s chief merchant since 2008 and played a key role in molding the retailer’s “chic-cheap” reputation. She will step down on July 6 but continue to serve in an advisory role, all while still receiving her current salary through April. The company is looking for her replacement; in the meantime, Tesija’s team will report to Cornell.

“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,” Cornell said in a statement.

Since taking the helm in August, Cornell has moved quickly to reshape Target to help it find its momentum again. In January, Target decided to abandon its money-sapping Canadian operations. Two months later, it announced layoffs at its Minneapolis headquarters. And last week, Target announced it would sell its pharmacy business to CVS Health.

Tesija’s departure is the first major change to hit the C-suite and it gives Cornell additional room to build his executive team as he sees fit. While Tesija was well regarded for helping turn Target into Tar-zhay, many analysts blamed her in part for the missteps that led to the retailer’s slump in recent years, including an apparel assortment that had become dull, as well as too much emphasis on low prices and an uninspired food selection. She had also been seen as the right-hand woman to Gregg Steinhafel, the CEO who left Target last year after a devastating data breach.

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