Nearly 40 Target Corp. headquarters jobs have been eliminated as part of a massive restructuring of the Minneapolis-based retailer's merchandising operations.

Affected employees were notified last week. They have the option to try to find another job within the company in the next few months. If not, they will receive severance packages.

"While these decisions are never easy, we believe this is the right decision to position Target for future success," Katie Boylan, a Target spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The sweeping changes to the merchandising division have come under Mark Tritton, who was brought on last year from Nordstrom to be Target's chief merchant. Many employees' roles are being adjusted with more of an emphasis on developing expertise in specific areas of each category — such as digital and pricing or promotions — instead of having more generalized buyers who oversee all of those areas.

"As part of Target's ongoing transformation efforts, we've been working over the past year to modernize our merchandising organization," Boylan said. "We're introducing a new operating model within the merchandising team this summer that will enable enterprise buying, create shared accountability across partnering teams and advance our data and analytics capabilities — which ultimately will help Target to deliver faster for our guests."

The new roles and structure were unveiled last week when Target also reported its fourth consecutive quarterly sales decline as it continues to struggle to hold on to shoppers amid the shift to online shopping and amid fierce competition from Wal-Mart and Amazon. As it looks to win shoppers back, it's investing in such areas as launching a dozen new in-house brands, remodeling hundreds of stores, and overhauling its supply chain.

Target is still the largest employer in downtown Minneapolis with more than 8,000 employees. It also has about 2,500 corporate workers at its campus in Brooklyn Park.

In 2015, its corporate headquarters went through a major downsizing when more than 2,000 workers were laid off in an effort by CEO Brian Cornell to reduce layers of bureaucracy to make the organization move faster and more efficiently.

Since then, it has had smaller rounds of job reductions resulting from the sale of its pharmacies to CVS and more recently from the shutting down of some innovation-related projects.

Kavita Kumar • 612-673-4113