By Sarah Nassauer
Target Corp.'s chief merchant, Mark Tritton, has resigned ahead of the key holiday season to take the top job at Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., a rival chain that has been struggling to adapt to the shifting retail landscape.
Mr. Tritton, who joined Target in 2016 from Nordstrom Inc., helped launch a collection of house brands for the chain, including a new line of lingerie and inexpensive toiletries. The moves, along with Target's recent investments in its stores and ecommerce, helped reverse a sales slump.
At Bed Bath & Beyond, he will take over a 1,000-store chain that competes with Target and has been contending with falling sales and board upheaval. The housewares chain, under pressure from activist investors, has been looking for new permanent leader since earlier this year. Mr. Tritton will join as chief executive and a board member on Nov. 4.
Target said two existing executives will take over Mr. Tritton's duties on an interim basis and report directly to CEO Brian Cornell. The company said it isn't conducting an external search for a new merchandising chief.
Target also said it promoted Michael Fiddelke to be its chief financial officer starting Nov. 1, succeeding Cathy Smith, who had previously announced plans to retire. Mr. Fiddelke, a 15-year Target veteran, was most recently senior vice president of operations.
Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond, which have tumbled by half since April, jumped 17% in late trading Wednesday to $11.65. Shares of Target, which have gained more than 60% this year, were little changed.
Mr. Tritton takes over at Bed Bath & Beyond from board member Mary Winston, who held the CEO job on an interim basis after longtime chief Steven Temares exited in May. Three activist investors disclosed a stake in the company earlier this year and called for changes, saying Bed Bath & Beyond failed to adapt its business model to the rise of ecommerce.
Bed Bath & Beyond has been conducting a strategic review of its portfolio, which totals roughly 1,500 stores including the Buy Buy Baby and Christmas Tree Shops chains. In the latest quarter, the company posted a net loss of $139 million on $2.7 billion of revenue.
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