Target still driving sales, despite leadership uncertainty

MINNEAPOLIS — Target reported October sales growth that fell short of analysts' expectations, while uncertainty remains following the recent departure of the company's CFO.

Target reported that its net retail sales for the four weeks ended Oct. 29 were $4.8 billion, an increase of 4.3% from $4.6 billion for the four weeks ended Oct. 30, 2010. On this same basis, comparable-store sales increased 3.3% in October and 4.3% in the third quarter.

"We're pleased with Target's third-quarter comparable-store sales performance," Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said. "We believe our unique merchandise assortment, exceptional everyday prices and superior shopping experience are more relevant than ever in these challenging economic times. We're confident that our merchandising and marketing plans position Target to drive strong results throughout the holiday season and beyond."

Earlier this week, Target announced that its EVP and CFO, Doug Scovanner, will retire on March 31, 2012. He will remain in his current role for the next five months in order to ensure a smooth transition once his successor is named, the company said.

The timing of the retirement is unfavorable for Target, which saw the departure last month of Steve Eastman, president Target.com, following the retailer's troubled website revamp, and the loss of Michael Francis, who as chief marketing officer was leading Target's entrance into Canada, to JCPenney.

How Scovanner's departure will impact future sales and earnings results remains to be seen.

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