That's because the retail field has struggled to compete for talent with industries that offer higher paychecks, while the candidate pool lacks a bevy of people with both merchandising and financial know-how.
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Les Berglass, CEO of retail placement firm Berglass + Associates, said Cornell's experience at PepsiCo, paired with his prior experience as president and CEO of Sam's Club, will be advantageous to the company's business.
"He wears a wholesale hat and he wears a retail hat, and that's a rare combination," Berglass said.
Because Target's grocery business leans heavily on vendors such as Pepsi, Cornell's experience at the food and beverage distributor will help it find a delicate balance between pushing for exclusive products at low prices without being too forceful, Berglass said. This is a key skill for the company's new head as Target looks to expand its grocery business, including in-store pickup for some of its non-perishable foods.
Jason Hanold, managing partner of boutique executive search firm Hanold Associates, said it's logical for retailers to extend their search outside of the industry, so long as they come from a business that's "wired to consumers."
"[Cornell's] not the first executive to come from another industry and infiltrate the ranks of retail," said Elaine Hughes, founder and CEO of executive search firm E.A. Hughes. She pointed to Kohl's Chief Customer Officer Michelle Gass, a Starbucks alum, as an example.
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When tapping talent from other industries, it's important to make sure they're familiar with the "burden of inventory," Berglass said. In particular, he said he'd like to see more retailers tapping into the digital space for new hires, for example poaching talent from Amazon.