Target Hires New Chief Marketing Officer

Jeffrey Jones II succeeds former CMO Michael Francis, who left in October to become president of J.C. Penney Company; his appointment concludes a "comprehensive search" that included both internal and external candidates.

About six months after Michael Francis abruptly left his post as Target Corporation's chief marketing officer (CMO) to become president of J.C. Penney Company, the Minneapolis-based retailer has hired a successor.

Jeffrey Jones II has assumed the position, effective immediately, Target said Monday, adding that his appointment concludes a “comprehensive search” that included both internal and external candidates.

Jones comes from Durham, North Carolina-based advertising agency McKinney, where he served as partner and president. Before that, he held several leadership positions at Gap, Inc., including executive vice president, CMO, and president of its gift card subsidiary. Other companies he's worked for include MarchFirst, Coca-Cola, and Leo Burnett Worldwide.

“Marketing is a key differentiator for Target, and I am confident that under Jeff's stewardship, we will continue to build on our long history of surprising and delighting our guests,” Target Chairman, President, and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in a statement.

Francis, who joined Target predecessor Dayton-Hudson Corporation in 1990 when it acquired Marshall Field's, became CMO in August 2008. He had been selected to lead the retailer's expansion into Canada-and Target hasn't said what type of role, if any, Jones will play in that effort.

Between 125 and 135 Canadian stores are scheduled to open in 2013, and a recent Fox Business report indicated that Target could hire as many as 27,000 in Canada-150 to 200 people at each store. The company will reportedly open its first 12 stores in Quebec.

Separate from the CMO news, Target recently announced plans to build a new food distribution center outside of Columbus, Ohio. The facility, which will serve about 350 stores in Ohio and nine other nearby states, is expected to create roughly 250 construction jobs and 100 to 150 permanent jobs.

Construction on the 450,000-square-foot building will begin this spring. Plans for the facility come at a time when Target, which has 37 distribution centers nationwide and another set to open in 2013, is greatly ramping up its food offerings. The company has added fresh foods to more than 800 general merchandise stores over the past three years, and by the end of this year, about 1,100 stores-or 60 percent-will have expanded food options.

Target serves customers at 1,765 stores and on its website. It is Minnesota's second-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $68.5 billion in the fiscal year that ended in January. The retailer saw significant same-store sales increases in both January and February.