Target’s president and chief executive, Gregg Steinhafel, resigned Monday, the latest fallout from a massive data breach last year.
Steinhafel, a more than 30-year veteran of the company, had repeatedly apologized to customers for the breach, which enabled the theft of millions of customers’ payment information and has cost the company millions. The retailer has struggled to win back customer trust amid a tough economy.
Extreme winter weather, weak holiday sales, a sluggish labor market and low consumer confidence have hit many retailers’ profits. Target has had the added burden of the data breach that affected up to 110 million customers and sparked a nationwide debate about whether retailers are doing enough to protect customer information.
Steinhafel “held himself personally accountable and pledged that Target would emerge a better company,” according to a statement from Target’s board of directors. “We are grateful to him for his tireless leadership and will always consider him a member of the Target family.”
Target said its chief financial officer, John Mulligan, would serve as interim president and chief executive officer.
Steinhafel is the highest-ranking Target executive to resign in the breach’s aftermath. The company has shuffled several high-level positions. Last week, the retailer appointed a new chief information officer to replace Beth Jacob, who stepped down in March. Bob DeRodes, a former technology consultant to government agencies, including the Homeland Security and Justice departments, was expected to start this week.
Security experts have warned that the malware that infected Target may also have affected a “large number” of other retail information systems. Nearly two dozen companies have been hacked in cases similar to the Target breach, and more almost certainly will fall victim in the months ahead, the FBI warned retailers earlier this year.
Target’s stock had stumbled nearly 3 percent and was trading at $60.24 per share late Monday morning.