Monday's decision by Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel to step down, seemed like a foregone conclusion.


MINNEAPOLIS - From his office just a few blocks from Target Headquarters, Twin Cities Business editor Dale Kurschner has watched the company endure one of its most difficult periods in company history.

Monday's decision by Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel to step down seemed like a foregone conclusion.

"I don't really think it came as a surprise to anybody who has been watching this company," said Kurschner. "It has been having problems for a few years now. What we saw happen with the security breach was kind of the very large straw on the camel's back."

That security breach of 40 million customer credit cards was a public relations nightmare in the middle of the 2013 holiday season. Other company leaders were sent to be the public face of Target, while Steinhafel remained largely behind the scenes.

"That is not the time for your CEO to stay dormant," said Kurschner.

As the company begins searching for a new CEO, the biggest challenge will be growth. Target is a brick and mortar retailer in an increasingly online world.

"Their grocery store concept was really brilliant and that helped for a while but that's kind of mellowed out. Canada was supposed to help, that hasn't helped. So where do you take Target next? That's going to be the first challenge for a CEO to really focus on," said Kurschner.

"People want to see that the company is making new bold choices and that they're going to have a new vision going forward," said USA Today Finance Reporter Hadley Malcom.

Gregg Steinhafel was a Target lifer, rising through the ranks over 35 years. Whether the company sticks with that internal tradition or looks outside itself for a new leader remains to be seen.

Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan will serve as interim CEO until the board selects a new leader.

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