Target plans to cut thousands of jobs in corporate restructure

Target headquarters in downtown Minneapolis
Target headquarters in downtown Minneapolis,, Feb. 11, 2015.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News file

Updated 6:45 p.m. | Posted 3:17 p.m.

Target Corp. plans to eliminate "several thousand positions," primarily at its Minneapolis headquarters, as part of a massive overhaul in the way the company does business.

The job cuts would come over two years as part of a $2 billion cost reduction and restructuring plan, the Minneapolis retail giant said Tuesday.

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No specific numbers were immediately available but officials said they wanted the headquarters to have a "simpler and more nimble structure."

The $2 billion in cuts will likely be enough for Target, but management could look for more down the road if they seem warranted, said Brian Yarbrough, an analyst who follows the retail industry for the investment firm Edward Jones.

"It's very unfortunate for these people losing their jobs," he said. "But I think there were too many layers of management and this caused the company to be stale and not efficient. And not nimble."

In mid-February, Target announced it would slash 550 jobs from its Twin Cities headquarters as part of the corporation's retreat from Canada. Target employs roughly 13,000 in its Twin Cities headquarters operations.

On Tuesday, the company said it will make a major push to expand its online and mobile sales operations. And its future store opening plans "will increasingly focus on new, more flexible formats like TargetExpress and CityTarget, which cater to guests in rapidly-growing, dense urban areas."

Target said it plans eight TargetExpress locations across the country this year and will continue to test new layouts in its conventional stores.

"Style, Baby, Kids and Wellness" will be Target's sales focus going forward the company said.

"We recognize it's a time of significant change and transformation at Target," CEO Brian Cornell said during an afternoon webcast with investors and stock analysts.

He called the planned restructuring "the beginning of the next stage in our company history."

Data from the past six months show "we're bringing the guests back ... we're already seeing traffic improve in our stores," Cornell said. "We want to make sure it's very convenient for them to interact with the brand."

The changes laid out Tuesday are designed to "win back those guests we disappointed" over the past few year but also to appeal to new customers, Cornell said.

He cited Hispanics especially as a group Target will focus on in coming years.

"Our guest is going to increasingly be an Hispanic shopper," he said.

Cornell also acknowledged the company's longtime consumer adage — "expect more, pay less" — had been tattered by the recession.

"We really decoupled our brand promise of expect more, pay less," he said.

Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement that the state will help those who will be laid off.

"We stand ready to help them find new employment opportunities in our state's growing job market," Dayton said. "We will also offer the company every possible support as it recovers and prospers again in Minnesota."