Target Merchandising Executive Steps Away from Firm


Target Corp. is losing another top merchandising executive, the latest shake-up to the retailer's leadership under Chief Executive Brian Cornell. Jose Barra, an executive vice president who headed up merchandising for a number of large categories including beauty, electronics and grocery, is leaving Target for a new position, a company spokeswoman said. His departure comes a little more than a month after the retailer's top merchant, Kathryn "Kathee" Tesija, stepped down after a long career, leaving a void at the top of the division that is in charge of picking and selling all the products on Target's shelves. Target is looking for a new chief merchandising officer, and is evaluating outside candidates. Mr. Barra was one of three merchandising deputies reporting directly to Ms. Tesija. He was promoted to executive vice president along with two other merchants last year shortly after Target's former CEO was ousted. Mr. Barra's departure comes as Mr. Cornell, a former PepsiCo executive, wraps up his first year at the helm of Target. Mr. Cornell has moved to focus Target on core categories such as baby, kids and wellness products, exited its money-losing foray in Canada and laid off thousands of employees. Mr. Cornell has also brought in two former Safeway executives to help revamp the grocery selection and has agreed to sell its unprofitable pharmacy business to CVS Health Corp. Both of those businesses reported to Mr. Barra. His moves have been cheered by Wall Street, with Target's shares up nearly 36% over the past year, among the biggest gainers for larger retailers. Sales have started to rise and shoppers have steadily come back, while digital sales grow at a fast clip. But the massive changes have rattled some corners of a company long known for their insular culture, current and former executives have said. Mr. Cornell's next hurdle comes Wednesday, when Target reports its second-quarter earnings and discloses progress on its back-to-school season.

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