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Target turns to PepsiCo’s Brian Cornell to restore its fortunes

Trouble in store? Cornell has a handful of strategic issues to sort out, from Canada to e-commerce. Trouble in store? Cornell has a handful of strategic issues to sort out, from Canada to e-commerce.
Trouble in store? Cornell has a handful of strategic issues to sort out, from Canada to e-commerce. Courtesy: target

Target Corp (TGT) is tapping Brian Cornell of PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) as its new chief executive, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Cornell, 55, will replace Gregg Steinhafel, who quit three months ago after a series of problems at the retailer, culminating in a disastrous breach of data security around Thanksgiving last year which wrecked its holiday season sales. Chief financial officer John Mulligan has been acting CEO since then.

A management problem has overshadowed Target’s stock all year. The company’s shares have fallen 3.3% while the S&P 500 has gained 7.4%.

Cornell has had two spells at PepsiCo and is currently head of its Americas Foods business, but also spent three years at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (fortune-stock symbol=”WMT”], where he was head of the Sam’s Club chain of warehouses.

Cornell wowed his new troops with handshakes and selfies Thursday morning, Fortune’s Jennifer Reingold reports. But the well-regarded former Pepsi executive faces substantial challenges at the helm of Target, the Journal said, such as deciding whether or not to pursue a so-far unsuccessful expansion into Canada, beefing up its e-commerce performance and generally streamlining a decision-making process that had gotten too slow and cumbersome under Steinhafel.

An open question is whether the appointment of the former Wal-Mart man signals a change in Target’s approach to its product ranges and the presentation of its stores.