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Target spins off e-commerce group

The owner of department store chains Target and Mervyn's, among others, is forming a new Internet unit to manage the company's e-commerce and direct marketing operations.

Target Corp. has formed a new Internet unit to manage the company's e-commerce and direct marketing operations.

Target Corp.--formerly known as Dayton Hudson and owner of department store chains Target, Mervyn's, Dayton's, Marshall Field's and Hudson's--combined its e-commerce and marketing staffs to create the new group, which will plan Internet strategy for each of the store chains.

"The Internet and e-commerce are a vital part of Target Corp.," Jerry Storch, president of credit and new business, said in a written statement. "This new organization will help us leverage the power of all our store brands and catalogs."

Slow to kick off its Net operations, the Minneapolis-based Target Corp. has been playing catch-up in building a Net presence over the last six months. In November, the company launched Web sites for Marshall Field's, Dayton's and Hudson's.

Net-savvy rivals Federated Department Stores and Nordstrom have had a strong lead in the e-commerce market. Federated, owner of the Macy's chain, launched Macys.com in July 1998. Department store chain Nordstrom launched its site in October 1998.

Last month, Dayton Hudson announced it was changing its name to Target Corp. Target spokeswoman Patty Morris said the former Dayton Hudson wanted to take advantage of Target's brand name. Known for the red bulls-eye symbol, the discount chain generates more than 75 percent of the Target Corp.'s revenues, Morris said.