MINNEAPOLIS -- In 1902, George Draper Dayton built a six-story building in downtown Minneapolis, the foundation of a company that grew to become the nation's fourth largest general merchandise retailer.
From that beginning, through all of its growth, mergers and acquisitions, the parent company -- now Dayton Hudson Corp. with more than 1,200 stores in 44 states -- always bore the Dayton name.
That will change on Jan. 30, when the company takes the name Target Corp., reflecting the success of the division that accounts for three-quarters of the retail giant's revenues and profits.
The Dayton name will remain only as a group of upscale retail Dayton's stores -- including the original downtown Minneapolis store -- within the parent company's department stores division.
The same applies for the Hudson name, which goes back to 1881 when Joseph Lowthian Hudson opened a small men's and boys' haberdashery in an old opera house in Detroit.
Bruce Dayton, grandson of the store's founder, said Thursday the name change is ''a great idea. After all, Target is 80 percent of the business.'' He said he wasn't sad about it. ''It's very positive.''
In the 1950s, both stores began to move into the suburbs. In 1954, J.L. Hudson opened Northland Center, then the world's largest shopping center, in the Detroit suburb of Southfield. Two years later, The Dayton Co. opened Southdale, the world's first fully enclosed two-level shopping center, in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina.
In 1962, The Dayton Co. entered the discount market with its first Target stores, which in 15 years would grow to become the company's top moneymaker.
Dayton's and Hudson's merged in 1969 to form the Dayton Hudson Corp., with stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
The company expanded into moderate-priced retail in 1978, and became the nation's seventh-largest general merchandise retailer, with the acquisition of Mervyn's California. Dayton Hudson also got out of the real estate business that year, selling its nine regional shopping centers for more than $300 million.
In 1990, Dayton Hudson acquired Marshall Field & Co. to add a third brand to its upscale department store division.
Throughout the changes, Target continued to grow nationally through new stores and acquisitions, including Ayr-Way, Fedmart, Gemco, and Gold Circle/Richway.
In 1994, Robert Ulrich, who headed the Target division, became Dayton Hudson's chairman and chief executive.
A year later, Target opened its first SuperTarget in Omaha, Neb., and since then has entered the mid-Atlantic and Northeast markets, including New York and Philadelphia.
Within the last year, the company has moved into Internet sales, making some merchandise available on its various retail Web sites.
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