Target tackles grocery with staff revamp

Target store
Image: Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

Target has a grocery problem. The retailer has failed to create a compelling assortment that drives foot traffic, repeat visits and higher basket sizes. A new plan to rectify this now includes dedicated staff to tend the department.

Employees in the grocery department will now be assigned only to that area, receive specialized training and be dedicated to managing inventory and customers in that department, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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Each team will have between 10 and 60 associates, and a new grocery director position has been created for each region to oversee the program. Management has added executives with experience in food to help guide the initiative.

The program is being overseen by Aaron Alt, who was brought in earlier this year as senior VP of grocery transformation. The new staffing plan is in place in 450 stores and will be extended to another 150 by next month.

Grocery has long posed a problem for Target, which added dry grocery and a handful of coolers for milk and other staples in the mid- to late 1990s as part of a pantry program.

But efforts were token at best. Target was a discount department store division of Dayton-Hudson, and the department store mentality and skill set drove that business. Grocery was an afterthought – but not to the competition, and Target has struggled to play catch-up.

The retailer is currently testing new grocery initiatives at its LA25 test stores, but even there, the focus is on fundamentals.

CEO Brian Cornell has made grocery a priority and is attempting to differentiate with healthy offerings. Still, grocery sales declined in the recent quarter, contributing to an overall disappointing financial forecast.