Russo spells out new strategy.

The new Kmart/ Target operation will deliver a “powerful” punch to the Australian retail landscape, according to Wesfarmers chief of department stores, Guy Russo (pictured).

While Russo was speaking at a Retail Doctor Group breakfast in Melbourne yesterday, he told the audience that the Target turnaround project would get the same treatment that saw Kmart revived to the country’s most successful department store.


“If we can deliver, it’s going to be a very powerful 500-store network,” Russo said, adding “My challenge now is to raise both businesses up, and that will take some time.

“But I guarantee one thing, if you are a competitor, you know you are in trouble because I am now both the sister and the brother.”

While Kmart soared under a five-year turnaround strategy led by Russo, Target has struggled to win over customers since its peak in 2010.

However, Russo reaffirmed Wesfarmers’ position that there was room in the market for both retailers to thrive.

“They are the perfect bookends and we are going to have more coming from both ends of the shopping centre,” he said.

Russo echoed Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder, in praising Target managing director Stuart Machin for the “green shoots” improvements he has made since his appointment two years ago.

Wesfarmers hopes Machin will take on another senior role in the group when he steps down in July.

Russo added that he, “…wanted to remove some of the complexities and bring Target back to the 90-year-old brand that was the most popular stores in Australia.”

He said that listening to the staff was crucial in discovering what changes needed to be made, as was walking the floor rather than leading from an office.

He said a retail leader must “look for the red, but also for the green”.