Target CEO Brian Cornell Named Retail “Visionary”
Eliesa Johnson

Target CEO Brian Cornell Named Retail “Visionary”

The National Retail Federation will recognize Cornell at its annual conference in January.

In a typical year, if such a thing exists anymore, the streets of downtown Minneapolis would be awash in red and khaki this week for Target’s Fall National Week event. A giant pep rally that kicks off the key retail season, the festivities generally include at least a couple of star sightings— John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Mindy Kaling, and the like. But for the second year, the event, which wraps up today, is fully virtual. You can be sure the Zoom schedule for 20,000 Target team members and leaders includes celebrity pop-ins and musical performances, but one thing that hasn’t changed: Target keeps the details under wraps.

The Minneapolis-based retailer did receive some high-profile praise in the midst of its company meeting this week: Target chairman and CEO Brian Cornell was announced as the 2022 recipient of The Visionary award from the National Retail Federation. The award is presented each year to a retail executive who has “driven positive change in the industry.”

“Brian Cornell’s purpose-driven leadership and strategic vision reflect an unwavering commitment to his team, and a keen ability to cut through the noise and truly understand what American families want and need,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “From spearheading billions of dollars in investments in Target’s team and bold business strategy, to cultivating a culture of care among hundreds of thousands of employees, to helping guide the industry throughout the challenges of the pandemic, Brian is an inspiring and innovative leader committed to making a positive impact inside and outside his company. Brian’s career and servant leadership are exemplary of why The Visionary award was created.”

Past recipients include Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon, Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass and Nike chairman, president and CEO Mark Parker.

“Years of bold investments in our strategy and capabilities have enabled our team to meet the needs of American consumers in any environment, including through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” Cornell said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more grateful to NRF for recognizing how Target’s 350,000 team members are putting our purpose and values, our unique business strengths, and our size and scale to work for all families, as we drive toward better outcomes for all people and the planet.”

Cornell was honored by TCB as 2019 Person of the Year. At the time, pre-pandemic, he talked extensively about the importance of improving digital operations and enhancing supply chain—moves that proved vital to thriving during Covid-19 and resulted in record sales.

Cornell will be featured as a keynote speaker at NRF’s annual convention, Retail’s Big Show, Jan. 16-18 in New York City.

On the heels of its national meeting, Target’s fall designer collection launches in stores and online on Sept. 25. The retailer is also celebrating Latino Heritage Month with its first-ever product collection.

Target plans a gradual return to its downtown Minneapolis headquarters, starting with the reopening of its common areas on Sept. 20. Employees who work at headquarters won’t be required to be in the office for the rest of the year, unless their job requires it. Going forward, Target plans a “flex for the day” policy that allows employees to split work time between the office and home.