UPDATE 4-Target names outsider as CEO after data breach

Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:42pm EDT
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* Target appoints Pepsi executive Brian Cornell as CEO (Adds analysts' comments, updates shares)

By Siddharth Cavale

July 31 (Reuters) - Beleaguered retailer Target Corp named former PepsiCo and Wal-Mart executive Brian Cornell as CEO and chairman as it tries to regain customer confidence following a devastating data breach last year that hit earnings.

Cornell, the first outsider to lead Target, has his work cut out. The company's comparable store sales have declined in three of the last five quarters, while store visits have fallen for six straight quarters.

An ambitious expansion into Canada last year has stumbled. The company opened a record 124 stores, but couldn't keep shelves full due to delivery bottlenecks and customers complained of steep prices.

The No.3 U.S. retailer has also been late to embrace e-commerce, lagging Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Amazon.com .

From 2009 to 2012, Cornell led a turn-around at Sam's Club, Wal-Mart's slowest growing business at the time.

In May 2012, he joined PepsiCo Inc to head the company's largest business, Americas Foods unit, which makes Frito Lay chips and Quaker oats.

"He did a very solid job at Sam's," Cowen & Co analyst Faye Landes said, citing that same-store sales growth at the membership-only stores jumped to 5.1 percent from 1.4 percent during Cornell's tenure.   Continued...