Steinhafel’s tenure has been tested with many challenges, from a weak economy to a proxy fight. The company, known for its cheap chic clothing and home decor, has seen uneven sales since the recession ended and has battled a perception that its prices aren’t as low as its rivals.
Under Steinhafel’s leadership, the company has won kudos for expanding into fresh groceries and offered a 5 percent discount to customers who use its branded debit and credit cards. In 2009, he successfully defended the company against a proxy fight against activist hedge fund manager William Ackman, who was pushing his own slate of candidates to the board.
But the company recently has been faced with fiercer competition from Amazon.com and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Recently, difficulties with expansion in Canada, Target’s first foray outside the U.S., has hurt profits. But the breach was the biggest black eye on Steinhafel’s tenure.
“Ultimately, too much rained down on Gregg Steinhafel,” said Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors. “There was no way he could escape the black vortex of news.”
In March, Target said in it annual report that the breach has spawned dozens of legal actions and said it can’t estimate how big the financial tab will be. It also acknowledged separately that security software picked up on suspicious activity after the cyber attack was launched, but the company decided not to take immediate action because it believed it did not warrant immediate follow-up.
Target’s response since disclosing the breach has included free credit monitoring for affected customers and and overhaul of security systems.
“The last several months have tested Target in unprecedented ways,” Steinhafel wrote in a letter to the board that was made available to The Associated Press. “From the beginning, I have been committed to ensuring Target emerges from the data breach a better company, more focused than ever on delivering for our guests.”