Target makes another change to its executive team

Target takes down retail
Target takes down retail

Target on Thursday promoted Rick Gomez to executive vice president and chief marketing officer, placing him in charge of the company's brand positioning and marketing. The appointment fills a role that had been vacant since August, when Jeff Jones left the company.

Gomez, who has been at Target since 2013, previously served as senior vice president of brand and category marketing. He was behind the company's live commercials during the 2015 and 2016 Grammy telecasts, and the marketing for Target's high-profile partnership with Lilly Pulitzer. He will report directly to CEO Brian Cornell effective Jan. 29.

"Rick has a deep understanding of the retail marketplace and brings an analytical, strategic and collaborative approach to the work he leads," Cornell said in a statement. "As our new chief marketing officer, Rick will build on Target's history of world-class marketing to drive traffic, sales, guest loyalty and brand equity during a time of rapid retail change."

Target has struggled to bring shoppers into its stores. It has attributed some of those challenges to confusing promotions, and a message that didn't focus enough on value.

The chain on Wednesday became the latest in a string of retailers to report disappointing holiday results. It said comparable sales slipped 1.3 percent in November and December, setting it up for a third-straight quarterly decline in that key metric.

That soft performance came despite a big marketing push, in which Target increased spending and televised an eight-minute mini-musical. It did, however, see a 30 percent spike in its digital sales.The chain lowered its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings forecasts following the news. It will release its full results Feb. 28, and hold a meeting with investors later that morning.

Target's executive team has seen plenty of shakeups since Cornell took over as CEO in 2014.

In November, the retailer named Wal-Mart alumnus Shekar Natarajan to a newly created role focused on the supply chain. Natarajan's addition followed a separate supply chain hire three months earlier, when Target brought on Amazon's Preston Mosier as senior vice president of fulfillment operations.

They both report to Arthur Valdez, formerly of Amazon, whom Target hired early last year.

There have also been high-profile departures. In September, Target said that Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldberger had left the company. That followed Jones' departure in August.

Other executives who have left the company since Cornell came on board include Kathee Tesija, the company's longtime chief merchant. She was replaced by Mark Tritton last year.

Target shares ended the day 2 percent lower, adding to Wednesday's 6 percent decline. They closed at $65.39 a share.