Target shareholders are apparently a forgiving bunch.
Despite a decline in comparable U.S. sales last year, a disastrous entry into the Canadian market that has so far cost it $1 billion, and a data breach that affected at least 70 million customers and hurt its reputation, the discount retailer’s investors re-elected its entire slate of 10 directors for another year, ignoring the recommendation of a prominent proxy advisory firm to dismiss seven out of the 10 directors.
And all three shareholder proposals, including one calling for an independent chairman, and another limiting executive perquisites, failed.
Interim Non-Executive Chairman Roxanne Austin told shareholders,”We need to significantly improve our performance.” And shareholders appear to have been placated by Target’s moves to do just that.
Since Target’s massive data breach was made public December, Target (TGT) has fired its CEO, and replaced its chief information officer and the head of its Canadian business. It has also created a tech advisory council made up of industry leaders to advise it on e-commerce, and created and filled a new position for a senior executive to oversee its tech security.
The retailer also gave shareholders so more candy, raising its quarterly dividend 21% to 52 cents a share.
Interim CEO John Mulligan, who is also Target’s full-time finance chief, outlined his priorities for the current fiscal year:
• Increase shopper traffic and sales in the United States, by introducing new merchandise more often.
• Improve its business in Canada, where Target has had inventory shortages and a lack of interest from local shoppers.
• Accelerate its online business and integration of e-commerce with its in-store retail business. Target gets around 2-3% of sales online, less than rivals like Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) and Kohl’s (KSS).