The association said Cornell was named RILA chairman yesterday at its board of directors’ semiannual meeting in Tucson, Ariz. Serving a two-year term, he takes the chairman’s reins from Bill Rhodes, chairman of AutoZone.
“The past year was one of tremendous change in retail, as we saw fundamental shifts in where and how people choose to shop. We also saw firsthand the power of our industry when we find common ground and advocate for consumers,” Cornell said in a statement. “As RILA’s chairman, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to build upon our shared successes and help drive positive change for our customers, our teams and our industry.”
Also at the meeting, four top executives were elected to the RILA board of directors: Richard Keyes, president and CEO of Meijer Inc.; Gina Boswell, president of customer development at Unilever; Michele Buck, president and CEO of The Hershey Co.; and Mark Breitbard, president and CEO of Banana Republic Gap Inc.
“RILA is fortunate to be led by such an exceptional board of directors. Our success is in large part a result of their commitment to collaborate with one another and provide us with critical insights and direction,” RILA president Sandy Kennedy stated. “We’re thrilled to welcome four additional board members this year, and we’re confident that we will continue to accomplish great things under Brian’s leadership.”
Cornell has served as Target’s chairman and CEO since August 2014, coming to the discount retailer from PepsiCo Americas Foods, where he was CEO. Before taking that role at PepsiCo, he was president and CEO of Walmart’s Sam’s Club division and had served as CEO of Michaels Stores Inc. and as executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Safeway Inc.
In a Q&A with RILA, Cornell discussed the changing retail landscape and the importance of retail industry advocacy.
“After nearly three years on the RILA board, what’s made the greatest impression on me is that, when we work together as leaders of the 42 million American people who make up the retail industry, we have an incredibly powerful voice to advocate for our customers, our teams and our communities,” Cornell said in the interview. “Without a doubt, the battle over the border adjustment tax was unprecedented, and it showed us that there’s an opportunity for more retailers to engage in public policy on an ongoing basis and advance our common agenda. But the opportunities for collaboration extend well beyond Washington, and my goals include working together to support the retail industry’s transformation and create a more diverse and inclusive next generation of retail leaders.”
RILA’s membership includes more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers and service suppliers, which combined represent over $1.5 trillion in annual sales and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.