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Who Owns Target?

who owns target

Target is one of the largest and most recognizable retail chains in the United States. It is a go-to destination for shoppers seeking a wide range of products at affordable prices. The company was founded in 1902 under the name Dayton Dry Goods Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Over the years, Target has expanded its offerings to include groceries, clothing, electronics, home goods, and much more. 

And now, with over 1,900 stores and an online presence that spans the globe, Target has become a household name.

But who exactly owns this retail giant? 

Well, I decided to take an in-depth look at the ownership structure of Target and the company’s history, tracing its ownership from its earliest days to the present day. Whether you’re a Target shopper or simply interested in the business world, this should provide you with valuable insights into one of America’s most successful companies.

Who Owns Target?

The company that runs Target is unsurprisingly called the Target Corporation. It is a publicly-traded company, meaning that its shares are available for purchase by the general public on stock exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). As of the start of April 2023, Target had a market capitalization of just over $73 billion and was one of the largest companies on the NYSE.

who owns target

The largest shareholders of Target Corporation are institutional investors, which include mutual funds, pension funds, and hedge funds. The Vanguard Group (9.29%), BlackRock (7.45%), State Street Global Advisors (7.18%), and Capital World Investors (6.9%) are the largest institutional shareholders of the company. Together, these four investment bodies own just under 31% of the company.

In addition to institutional investors, Target also has a significant number of individual shareholders. As of 2023, there were over 3,000 individual shareholders of Target, who collectively owned over 20% of the company.

A Brief History of Target Corporation

Target Corporation has a rich and interesting history that dates back over a century. 

The Early Days

The company’s origins can be traced back to 1902, when a young entrepreneur named George Draper Dayton opened the Dayton Dry Goods Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dayton was a savvy businessman who had made a name for himself in the local business community by buying and selling real estate.

The Early Days

Dayton’s first store was a modest one, occupying just six floors of a building in downtown Minneapolis. However, he quickly gained a reputation for offering high-quality merchandise at fair prices, and his business began to grow. In 1911, Dayton moved his store to a larger building and renamed it the Dayton Company. This made logical sense as he had long since expanded the product range to sell more than just dried goods.

Surviving the 1920s and The Great Depression

The railroad strike of 1922 was a major event that had a significant impact on the Dayton Company, the precursor to Target Corporation. The strike was one of the largest labor actions in U.S. history, with over 400,000 railroad workers walking off the job in protest of wage cuts and other labor practices.

The strike had a ripple effect throughout the economy, disrupting transportation and causing shortages of goods and materials. For retailers like the Dayton Company, which relied heavily on transportation to bring goods to their stores, the strike was particularly damaging. 

Let’s take to the air…

Facing empty shelves and the prospect of losing his business altogether, George Dayton took radical action. He hired two planes from the Curtis Northwest Plane Company and circumvented the strike by flying goods into Minneapolis direct. This was a revolutionary concept at the time and paved the way for long-distance commercial flights to become the norm.

Having survived this hiccup, the Dayton Company went from strength to strength, becoming a multi-million-dollar business by the end of the decade and guiding it through the great depression in one piece.

New Ownership

When George Dayton died in 1938, ownership of the company passed to his son Nelson Dayton. He continued to expand the store’s product range, developing on the success of his father. Nelson thought the company should give back to the community that had enabled their success, and from this moment on, 5% of company profits were donated to charitable causes via their Dayton Foundation.

In 1944 Nelson introduced retirement benefits for store workers, and in 1950, the company were also one of the first stores in the US to offer their employees full health insurance.

New Ownership


On his death in 1950, Nelson’s son Donald took over the reins, and the expansion of the company began with his more aggressive management approach. The 1950s was a decade of significant expansion for the Dayton Company. During this time, the company opened several new stores, introduced new product lines, and implemented innovative merchandising strategies that helped to set it apart from its competitors.

One of the most significant developments of this era was the opening of the company’s first suburban store in 1956. The Southdale Center, an indoor mall located in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, marked a new chapter in its expansion strategy. The suburban store was a huge success, attracting customers from surrounding communities and paving the way for the company to open more stores in suburban areas in the years that followed.

The Founding of Target

The 1960s saw the birth of a new era for the Dayton Company, with the opening of its first Target store in 1962. The company’s decision to launch a new discount retail concept was a response to changing consumer preferences and a shifting retail landscape. The Target stores offered a unique combination of high-quality products, low prices, and stylish design, which quickly resonated with shoppers across the country.

The Founding of Target

The first Target store was located in Roseville, Minnesota, and featured a new format that was unlike anything that had been seen in the retail industry at the time. The store was designed with wide aisles, bright colors, and a clean, modern look that set it apart from traditional discount retailers. In addition to offering low prices, the store also featured a broad selection of merchandise, including apparel, electronics, and home goods.

The success of the first Target store paved the way for rapid expansion, with additional stores opening throughout the Midwest and beyond in the years that followed. By the end of the 1960s, the company had more than two dozen Target stores in operation and $200 million in sales, it was well on its way to becoming one of the largest and most successful retailers in the United States.

Onwards and Upwards

The 1970s saw the company expand their operations. By 1975, they were operating in nine states with a total of 49 stores with sales of just over half a billion dollars. More acquisitions followed, and by 1981, the company had 151 stores in the central states, with revenues of $2.05 billion.

The 1980s saw the Dayton Company expand their operations into the western states of the country with new stores in Arizona, Texas, and California. 1983 saw the end of the Dayton family involvement in the running of the company. Bob Ulrich became the new president and continued the company’s nationwide expansion.

By 1989, the company were operating in 27 states with a total of 341 stores. Revenues were now topping $7.51 billion per year. The breakneck expansion continued throughout the 1990s leading to a presence in 44 states and a total of 912 stores, bringing in $26 billion in sales.

Dayton Company Becomes Target Corporation

The decision to change the name of Dayton Hudson Corporation to Target Corporation was a reflection of the company’s evolving brand identity and strategic direction. The name change was officially announced in January 2000, and it was intended to better align the company’s corporate identity with its most successful retail brand. By this point, around 80% of the company’s income was derived from Target stores.

The new name was also intended to make it easier for consumers to identify the company with its most popular and recognizable retail brand.

Dayton Company Becomes Target Corporation

To The Present Day

Since the name change, Target Corporation has continued to focus on expanding its retail operations, both in the United States and around the world. The company’s commitment to innovation, style, and affordability has remained a key part of its brand identity, and it has continued to be a major player in the retail industry. 

Today, Target Corporation operates more than 1,900 stores across the United States, making it one of the largest and most successful retailers in the country.

Interested in Knowing More about Target?

If so, check out our comprehensive Target Mission and Vision Statement Analysis, all about the Target SloganWhat is a Super Target, the Biggest Target Competitors, our in-depth Walmart vs Target comparison, or even How Much Does Target Pay in 2023?

We also answer a lot of more practical target questions on the site, such as Does Target Price Match AmazonDoes Target Sell StampsDoes Target Take Passport PhotosWhen Does Target Restock, or Does Target Sell Cigarettes? Or how about their financial services such as Does Target Do Money OrdersDoes Target Do Cashback, or Does Target Take EBT? Simply search for whatever you need to know using our search box.

Final Thoughts

Target Corporation has an amazing story that spans over a century. From its early days as a small department store in Minneapolis to its current status as one of the largest and most successful retailers in the world, the company has undergone numerous changes and transformations over the years.

Looking ahead, Target Corporation is poised for continued growth and success as it continues to expand its operations at home and abroad and adapt to the ever-changing retail landscape. The assortment of institutional investors and individuals who own a piece of this thriving company should continue to see a good return on their investment.

Happy shopping or investing in Target!

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