Target Corp. has tapped a new chief strategy and innovation officer as the Minneapolis-based retailer increases its focus on the core business.
The company has hired Minsok Pak, most recently senior vice president of Lego's stores and e-commerce sites around the world, to fill the role. The previous leader, Casey Carl, left the company this spring as several of his projects were dismantled.
Pak will lead a team of about 100 people between Target's Minneapolis and San Francisco offices. He also worked for consulting firm McKinsey for two decades and was chief strategy officer for LG Electronics.
Target CEO Brian Cornell said in an interview that he has always seen the role of a chief strategy and innovation officer to be "critically important" and that the position will continue to report directly to him. Cornell created the role at Target soon after he arrived three years ago and made it a C-Suite position.
"Expect to see us further invest and see innovation flow throughout the company," Cornell said.
He added that he'll give Pak time to better understand Target's business and its current efforts before charting out a specific direction.
"I expect him to be very guest-focused, to build on the work already in place, and to think about future innovation and partnerships and future M&A," Cornell said.
Pak was traveling abroad and unavailable for comment, according to a Target spokeswoman. He starts next month.
Many of Target's key competitors have been making big moves in terms of acquisitions. Amazon is buying Whole Foods, and Walmart acquired Jet.com last year and has since been snapping up smaller online retailers.
Cornell said Target will continue to look for partnerships that are a good strategic fit, such as its recent acquisition of technology firm Grand Junction to help amplify its same-day delivery efforts and a recent investment in online bed-in-a-box company Casper Sleep.
Carl left Target in early May after many of his projects, including a store of the future with robots being built in Silicon Valley, were shut down. He had brought in outside executives to be entrepreneurs-in-residence who launched a number of initiatives, such as a food lab in Cambridge, Mass., that was looking at ways to build vertical farms in stores and a start-up called Goldfish, an e-commerce marketplace of sorts.
As Target's sales continued to slide, those projects were ended earlier this year and those entrepreneurs have exited the company. Cornell said the company needed to refocus on efforts that would have a faster payoff and that are more closely aligned to Target's core business.
At a tech conference last month, Cornell said that while the company had a good experience with those entrepreneurs, he admitted he made some mistakes in giving them too much leeway.
"Unfortunately, they were drifting out to another universe," he said at the conference. "We had to reel things back in ..."
Two major pieces of Target's innovation agenda from Carl's tenure remain intact — a three-year partnership with Techstars to host a retail accelerator for startups at Target's headquarters and Open House, an experimental store in San Francisco where Target has been playing around with the newest connected home products.
Cornell said innovation efforts are being embedded across all of the work Target does, such as current efforts to launch more than a dozen private-label brands in the next two years, remodel hundreds of stores with an eye toward integrating more digital elements, and remake its supply chain for the digital era.
"We want to make sure our innovation is complementing our core enterprise," he said.
Other examples of Target's current innovation efforts he pointed to include an internal test of curbside delivery in the Twin Cities that is expected to roll out to consumers this fall and the recent launch of a next-day delivery service of a cartful of household items called Target Restock.
And Cornell said there's more to come.
"I'm going to let Minsok find his way to his office and then begin to roll up his sleeves," he said.