Cornell replaces interim CEO John Mulligan, who is chief financial officer for the Minneapolis company. Mulligan stepped into the interim CEO post in May when Target Corp.'s Gregg Steinhafel resigned following a large data breach in the runup to Christmas.
Cornell, 55, most recently served as CEO of PepsiCo Americas Foods. Prior to that, he was CEO and president of Sam's Club of Wal-Mart International and CEO of Michaels Stores Inc.
PepsiCo Inc. said in a statement Thursday that it expects to announce Cornell's successor soon.
Target said that Cornell's top priorities will be to ramp up its performance and press forward with its evolution into a retailer that seamlessly incorporates online and brick-and-mortar experiences for its shoppers.
Target is looking to start anew after announcing in December a data breach in which hackers stole millions of customers' credit- and debit-card records. The theft badly damaged the chain's reputation and profits and spawned dozens of legal actions that could prove costly. Target's response since the theft has included free credit monitoring for affected customers and an overhaul of security systems.
Target's expansion into Canada, its first foray outside the U.S., has also been a disappointment. Analysts have said that Target botched its Canadian expansion by moving too aggressively. The company opened about 120 stores in the latest year and lost nearly $1 billion in the Canadian business. In May it fired the president of its Canadian operations, Tony Fisher, and replaced him with Mark Schindele, a company veteran.
Target must also work to restore faith among its investors. In June at its annual shareholders meeting the final shareholder vote tally showed a rise in dissent against key board members. All 10 nominees were elected to the board but the rise in votes against several key directors shows how uneasy investors still are following the data breach.
Cornell is set to become Target's CEO on Aug. 12.
Target shares finished at $61.38 per share on Wednesday. They have fallen 3 percent since the start of the 2014.