Target and Neiman Marcus joined by three more US retailers in massive customer data breach.Reuters

US retail giant Target is hiring PepsiCo Inc executive Brian Cornell as its new CEO after it ousted former CEO Gregg Steinhafel in May in the wake of a massive customer data breach.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the company is appointing an outsider as its head for the first time in its history. Cornell begins his new job on 12 August.

Target earlier fired Steinhafel, who had been the CEO since 2008, after the company was hit by a data breach that exposed about 40 million customers to fraud.

Target discovered a major security breach in December 2013. Payment data from about 40 million credit and debit cards were stolen from Christmas shoppers at its stores over 19 days between 27 November and 15 December.

It has since been revealed that a further 70 million customer records with sensitive information such as names, telephone numbers and email addresses were also stolen.

John Mulligan, Target's chief financial officer, was appointed as interim president and CEO of the company, while Roxanne Austin, a board member, was appointed as interim non-executive chair of the board. Mulligan will be returning to his position as chief financial officer.

Following the scandal, the third largest retailer in the US suffered a decline in its profit on reduced customer traffic.

Cornell's first task would be to address these concerns and regain consumer confidence in the company.

He has spent nearly a decade at PepsiCo, where he was an outside contender to succeed current CEO Indra Nooyi, the WSJ reported.

Over the past two years, he ran PepsiCo's Americas foods business, which owns brands such as Quaker oatmeal and Lay's potato chips.

He had worked with Target rival Wal-Mart Stores, where he was responsible for the Sam's Club warehouse chain. He was also CEO of arts and crafts chain Michael's Stores Inc for two years, after it was taken private.