With Black Friday behind him and Christmas just around the corner Gregg Steinhafel was a man not at peace with the world. As chairman and CEO of discount chain Target Corporation, one of the 10 largest retailers in the US, he had every reason to pause and reflect on a successful 35-year career with the firm.
But on the morning of Sunday 15 December 2013, the problems that were beginning to surface after the company’s recent expansion into the Canadian market were on his mind. And then the phone rang. “I remember it distinctly,” he told CNBC in a televised corporate damage-limitation exercise a month later.
“It’s hard for me to describe the feeling that came over me. I was devastated. How could this happen to Target? It was really a moving moment for me because we’re all about the guests [customers], we’re all about the trust and the relationship and that’s what we built the franchise on... I’m still shaken by it.”