Target narrows focus to baby, child, style and wellness products

Target (NYSE:TGT) is planning to focus its bullseye on a handful of departments as part of a strategic move to bring shoppers back into the stores and stay competitive online.

In essence, the retailer will drop the big-box image and pare down to essentials such as baby products and fashion.

The change, announced by Chief Executive Brian Cornell, comes at a time when many retailers are looking to move away from giant warehouse stores that are not only costly, but can be hard to navigate for consumers. As a result, shoppers and retailers are defecting to smaller, more personalized stores, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this year Target launched smaller-format stores after foot traffic had fallen for seven straight quarters. Two more of Target's smaller-format TargetExpress stores are slated to open in California in March: one in San Francisco and one in Berkeley.

After just a month at the company's helm, Cornell is already making waves. He previously announced a focus on team-building and ominichannel. Now he wants to bolster inventory with items that could help the chain stand out.

"We've got to major in these signature categories and make some bold changes to re-energize those businesses," Cornell told the Wall Street Journal. "All categories can't be prioritized the same."

Which areas will get extra attention? Baby products, including diapers, clothing and gear; children's products, including clothes and toys; "design and style," which includes fashion and furniture; and wellness products.

Under the previous CEO, Gregg Steinhafel, the retailer took fewer risks on fashion trends and focused more on everyday goods. Under the new leadership, trend and edge will be top of mind.

Cornell did stress that no categories at Target would go away.

Cornell is still evaluating what role grocery will play in Target's future. Steinhafel had pushed the sector as a way to get people to visit the store more. In the year that ended in February, 46 percent of Target's sales came from everyday and household goods, up from 32 percent five years earlier.

"You've got to be thinking about tomorrow and building the strategy about the future," Cornell said.

For more:
-See this Wall Street Journal article (subscription)

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