Byline: David Moin

NEW YORK — Bernard Cammarata, who launched T.J. Maxx in 1976 and built it into the biggest and most successful off-price operation in the country, is stepping down as chief executive officer of TJX Cos. on April 17 and turning the reins over to Edmond English, a close associate.
The 46-year-old English will also continue as president and a member of the board, directing the ongoing growth and day-to-day operations.
The 60-year-old Cammarata became president and ceo of TJX in 1987, placing him among the most enduring ceos of a major retail operation. He will continue as chairman, a post he assumed last year, and will remain active in the company by concentrating on strategic directions. He also intends to spend more time with his family.
“Ben Cammarata built a very basic, seamless business and created a corporate culture of no frills, really reflecting the value the company brings to customers,” said Robert Kenzer, chairman of Kenzer Corp. executive search.
Over the past couple of years, several off-price chains have been struggling, most notably Loehmann’s and Filene’s Basement. Both are in bankruptcy proceedings. However, Cammarata kept TJX highly profitable — and growing — by launching new store formats for home goods and superstores and introducing the off-price store concept to Europe during the Nineties.
His most dramatic maneuver came in 1995 with the acquisition of Marshalls, which TJX was originally modeled after, giving the corporation enormous buying power. Cammarata smoothly blended the two chains.
The corporation posted $8.8 billion in sales last year. It operates 632 T.J. Maxx, 505 Marshalls, 51 HomeGoods and 15 A.J. Wright stores in the U.S. In Canada, the company operates 100 Winners, and in Europe, 54 T.K. Maxx stores.
Discussing growth plans Thursday, new ceo English said, “We have six operations and we intend to grow all of them. “We are very excited about our home business,” he added. “We plan to add 30 stores to our 51-store base.”
English said that long term, he sees the company operating 500 freestanding home stores and 150 superstores, which combine the home concept with T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. There are 27 superstores currently operating.
In Europe, T.K. Maxx turned profitable last year, English said.
The T.K. Maxx units are in the U.K., Ireland and the Netherlands, and 22 openings are set for this year. Ultimately, 250 are envisioned operating in the U.K. and Ireland and another 300 on the European Continent.
The company also plans to open a dozen Winners stores in Canada this year, and the business could ultimately have 150 or 160 units, English said.
A.J. Wright, launched last year, has enormous rollout potential, according to English. “We think once we get it right, we’ve got the formula for about 1,000 stores.
It’s off-price for moderate-income customers.
While the mix at T.J. Maxx and the Marshalls mix are reflective of mainstream department stores, the mix at A.J. Wright is more reflective of discount stores.”
In a statement Thursday, Cammarata said, “Ted has been with us for 17 years and has, at various points, been responsible for every merchandise classification within this business. For the last two years, Ted and I have worked closely together, preparing him for taking charge of the company.”
English has spent his entire career in off-price retailing, starting at Filene’s Basement as a stock boy and becoming a buyer.
He joined T.J. Maxx as a buyer in 1983 and rose to senior merchandise positions.
In 1995, when the company bought Marshalls, he was instrumental in consolidating the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls organizations to form The Marmaxx Group.
In 1999, English was promoted to president and chief operating officer of TJX.

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