- With the departure of Target Chief Merchant Mark Tritton to Bed Bath & Beyond, the retailer tapped two senior merchandising executives to fill the role, according to a Wednesday press release.
- Target described the appointments of Christina Hennington and Jill Sando to fill the chief merchant office as "interim." But the company added that this "operating structure will remain in place until further notice" and that Target doesn't have plans for an external search for a permanent chief merchant at the moment.
- Target also said it promoted Senior Vice President of Operations Michael Fiddelke to CFO, effective Nov. 1. Fiddelke, a 15-year Target vet, replaces Cathy Smith, who announced her retirement in January but plans to stay on in an advisory role through next May.
Between them, Hennington and Sando bring 38 years of experience at Target, and oversee some of the retailer's most important categories, which should bring some continuity and stability to the void left by Tritton. Hennington currently serves as senior vice president and general merchandising manager of essentials, beauty, hardlines and services at Target, while Sando holds the same title and oversees apparel, accessories and home.
The retailer, after a slump earlier this decade, has effectively pulled off a turnaround, with a major contribution from a merchandising reset led by Tritton. Over the past three years, Target has been steadily rolling out new private labels across categories aimed at freshening its assortment and keeping it relevant.
Analysts with Telsey Advisory Group, led by Joseph Feldman, said in an emailed client note that "[w]hile former CMO Mark Tritton will be missed, we are confident that Christina Hennington and Jill Sando, along with Target's deep bench of merchants, should be able to step up and manage the business."
Wells Fargo analysts appeared less optimistic, writing that the executive changes "probably net to a negative update overall."
Elaborating, the analysts described moving Fiddelke into the CFO role "a solid choice" — after a long search— that helps ensure consistency. But while Hennington and Sando's promotion shows that "the bench at [Target] is deep," the analysts also said that "it's hard to see this departure as anything but a loss given the role merchandising has played in the company's revitalization."
The analysts added, though, that they did not see the news as a "reflection of any issue at the company."