San Francisco Chronicle

Target Using Outsiders, Especially in S.F., to Regain Momentum

By: Thomas Lee

Date: 06/09/2014

For a retailer that prides itself on flawless execution, Target Corp. has witnessed better days.

Slumping sales. A botched rollout in Canada. Theft of customers’ credit card data.

It would be tempting to dismiss Target as just one more mighty big-box chain out of step with economic and technological forces that have reshaped the retail business. But that doesn’t tell the entire story.

Once an insular company, Target is now in the midst of a messy but necessary reinvention. One of its top priorities: welcoming outside ideas, talent and innovation.

No surprise, the Minneapolis company knew it could find those three things in San Francisco.

In many ways, the city has become Target’s de facto innovation laboratory. To better recruit engineering talent from Silicon Valley, the company opened a technology office in the old Folgersbuilding downtown. It built one of its first smaller-format CityTargets at the Metreon on Mission Street. And it recently worked with five Bay Area companies to create Made to Matter, a collection of natural and organic products.

Or should we say those companies – Plum Organics, Method, Clif Bar, Annie’s, Yes To – decided to partner with Target? As it turns out, the idea for Made to Matter grew out of a retreat two years ago for food and consumer products led by Method co-founder Eric Ryan and Plum president Neil Grimmer.


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