FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — TJX Cos. expects to expand from 1,665 stores to 4,200 stores in nine years, growing 11 percent annually and posting an average 3 percent comparable-store sales gains during the period, Edmond J. English, president and chief executive of the nation’s largest off-price retailer, said at the company’s annual meeting here Tuesday.

This story first appeared in the June 5, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

About 600 of those planned stores will open in the next three years, he added.

He said the expansion will be funded by cash from existing operations, while the company continues to “aggressively” buy back shares of its stock.

English called the A. J. Wright off-price apparel division, launched in late 1998 and targeting moderate-income shoppers, the firm’s “rising star.” T. J. Maxx and Marshalls off-price divisions target mid- to upper-income demographics. Over the next nine years, A. J. Wright is projected to grow from 45 stores at the end of the past year, to more than 1,000 units, English said.

TJX also expects to open 75 stores annually in its Marmaxx group of T. J. Maxx and Marshalls to reach about 1,800 stores in the next nine years. T. J. Maxx had 687 stores at the end of last year, and Marshalls had 582.

The HomeGoods home furnishings chain is projected to grow from 112 stores to 650. About 500 of those will be freestanding units; the other 150 will be paired with a T. J. Maxx or Marshalls in a superstore format.

Superstores average 50,000 square feet, with apparel occupying about 60 percent of the space. Just over 40 are currently open, and another 10 to 11 will open this year.

In Canada, the Winners off-price apparel chain is projected to grow from 131 to 180 stores, while the recently launched HomeSense home fashions chain will expand from seven stores to between 60 and 80.

The T. K. Maxx group, which operates 101 stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland, is expected to grow to 250 stores there in nine years and to a total of 550 stores in Europe overall, English said.

After the meeting, English hedged on a prediction for the back half and the holiday season. “Because of the way we buy, I have no clue what we’ll even have in the stores at Christmas,” he said. “Certainly last year we had a very strong fourth quarter, and it was a tough time economically. If there’s a bounceback in the back half of this year, we will be able to benefit. But we are not a good indicator of economic times. Our business holds up during down times as well as up times.”

Carol Meyrowitz, president of the Marmaxx group, was more bullish, saying, “We had a great Christmas last year, and we anticipate a great Christmas this year.” In women’s at T. J. Maxx and Marshalls, Meyrowitz said, “capris are very, very hot, casual is strong, and so are woven shirts with frills. We are in a fashion cycle that’s about ruffles, color and being special, and not about basics.”

TJX opened its annual meeting with a tribute to its seven employees who died on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.

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