Minneapolis — Douglas Dayton, who conceived and led the Target discount store chain in the 1960s, succumbed to cancer on Friday at the age of 88.
Dayton, whose family ran an eponymous Midwest department store chain, developed Target in 1962 to compete within the nascent discount-store channel alongside format forerunners Kmart and Walmart.
He served as president of Target until 1968, when he returned to Dayton to oversee the acquisition and integration of the J.L. Hudson Co., a 21-store Michigan chain.
Dayton-Hudson would later acquire Mervyn’s, a major discount chain, and Marshall Field’s, a leading department store. Dayton-Hudson eventually changed its name to Target Corp. and sold off all its other retail interests.
Dayton left the business in 1974 to form a venture capital firm and retired in 1994. He received a Purple Heart in World War II and was active in a number of charities and philanthropic endeavors.
In a statement, Target’s current president/CEO Gregg Steinahafel said: “On behalf of the entire Target team, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and many friends of Douglas Dayton. Along with his brothers and cousin, Doug was instrumental in helping to guide the strategic direction of Dayton Hudson Corporation for many years and institutionalize the values that are at the heart of Target Corporation today. We are thankful for Doug’s leadership, and his many contributions to our company and community.”