US retailer Target has said that it will eliminate 9% of head office staff in a bid to cut costs.

The Minneapolis-based retailer said the planned workforce reduction would include the elimination of 600 employees and 400 open positions.

Target will also close a distribution centre in Little Rock, Arkansas, before the end of the year – with the loss of a further 500 jobs.

In an announcement yesterday (27 January), Target said that its earnings performance was coming under pressure from weaker-than-expected sales.

The company said that this, combined with the likelihood of continued economic difficulties in 2009, had prompted it to take a more conservative approach to the business.

“We are clearly operating in an unprecedented economic environment that requires us to make some extremely difficult decisions to ensure Target remains competitive over the long-term,” president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said.

Target is the latest in a line of US retailers to announce job cuts.

Last week, Delhaize’s Food Lion said it was eliminating 80 head office positions.

However, non-food retailers have, to date, been hit hardest by the downturn: 34,000 jobs will be lost as part Circuit City’s liquidation; while on Monday Home Depot said it will cut 7,000 positions.