(Reuters) - Douglas Dayton, the man who helped start Target Corp (TGT.N) as a family-owned department store in 1961 and turned it into one of the largest discount retail chains in the United States, has died at the age of 88.
Praise for Dayton, who left Target in 1974 to set up a venture capital firm and retired in 1994, came on Sunday from Target as well as businessmen and politicians including his nephew, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.
"Along with his brothers and cousin, Doug was instrumental in helping to guide the strategic direction of Dayton Hudson Corporation for many years and institutionalize the values that are at the heart of Target Corporation today," Minneapolis-based Target said in a statement.
Douglas Dayton became Target's first president in 1961, and when the company merged with department store chain J.L. Hudson Co in 1969 he became senior vice president. The new company, called Dayton Hudson Corporation, was renamed Target in 2000.
Dayton is survived by his wife Wendy, his four children and six grandchildren. Most of the former Dayton department stores in Minnesota are today operated by Macy's Inc (M.N) but Target now ranks 36th among the Fortune 500 companies.
Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Stephen Coates