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Target fires Canadian operations president

Steinhafel

– Target has fired the president of its troubled Canadian operations, Tony Fisher, and is replacing him with a 15-year U.S. company veteran.

The executive shake-up in Canada comes two weeks after the abrupt resignation of Target’s CEO and Chairman Gregg Steinhafel.

The third-largest U.S. retailer announced Tuesday that Mark Schindele, 45, who was senior vice president of merchandising operations, will now run the Canadian operation. Target’s expansion into Canada last year marked its first foray outside the U.S., but it has struggled with weak sales and losses. The changes are effective immediately.

Schindele has played a key role in launching new store format including an expanded grocery area, as well as Target Express and CityTarget in the U.S.

He has also led a global team and provided senior-level oversight to Target’s merchandising operations.

Target, based in Minneapolis, also said that it will be naming a nonexecutive chair in Canada. In its newly created advisory role, the chair will provide counsel and support to the president of Target Canada to ensure all strategies and tactics align with the Canadian marketplace.

The company also announced the promotions of three senior merchandising executives in its U.S. division as it tries to be more nimble in bringing in trendy products into stores more quickly.

Target is trying to fix its flailing operations in Canada, its first foray outside the U.S., while revitalizing business in the U.S. It’s also trying to recover from a massive data breach in the U.S. that has cost it customer trust.

The botched Canadian expansion and the data breach were the two main factors behind Steinhafel’s departure. Target’s Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan is serving as interim CEO as Target searches for a new leader. Steinhafel agreed to serve as an adviser during the transition.

Under the leadership of Fisher, 38, the company opened more than 100 stores north of the border. But shoppers have complained that prices are too high, and the Canadian stores have been wrestling with inventory problems. Fisher had been a company veteran for 15 years.

As a result, sales have been weak, and the company’s Canadian operations recorded a loss of $941 million in its first year, shaving off $1.13 a share from the company’s results.

While Fisher and Schindele are from the U.S., 90 percent of the team working in the Canadian operations is Canadian, Target said.

“We are grateful to Tony for leading Target’s first international launch,” Mulligan said in a statement. “One of our key priorities is improving performance in Canada more rapidly, and we believe it is important to be aggressive.

“Mark’s broad understanding of the retail industry and his record of leading global operations will help accelerate efforts to drive improvements across our Canadian business.”

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