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The Boston Globe OnlineBoston.com The Best in Massachusetts Business
TOP TEN
2.  T J X   C O R P.

Edmond English
TJX Cos. chief executive Edmond English says his company is "considerably more nimble than most other retailers." (Globe File Photo)

Off-price retailer sticks to value, consumers respond

    Top 10 Companies

1. Charles River Labs
2. TJX
3. Perini
4. Investors Fin. Svcs.
5. Gillette
6. Staples
7. OneSource
8. Reebok
9. Bright Horizons
10. State Street

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The Framingham-based operator of such chains as T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, and A.J. Wright, had every excuse to stumble last year. On Sept. 11, seven of its employees died in the terrorist attacks.

While TJX mourned, many rival retailers fretted that Americans would stop spending and slashed prices, a move that had the potential to hurt TJX.

TJX is the biggest player in offprice retail. In the beginning, the genre was about buying last season's leftover clothing from department stores and selling it at big discounts in no-frills stores. The formula has evolved into something far more complex, and TJX excels at it.

For TJX, conditions are ideal when there's a wide price gap between its chains and department stores. After Sept. 11, many department stores offered big discounts, and the price gap narrowed. Yet TJX still outperformed many rivals, thanks to strong execution, skillful inventory management, and the opportunistic buying of new merchandise.

In tough times, consumers look for value, and TJX offered plenty, said a Buckingham Research Group analyst, Lee F. Backus. Annual sales rose 12 percent, to $10.7 billion. Net income fell from $538 million to $500 million, because of a one-time charge. While that was below its own expectations, TJX still had results that made it a retail standout. Earnings per share from continuing operations rose 4 percent, to $1.94.

"I attribute much of our continued success," said chief executive Edmond English, "to the fact that our business is considerably more nimble than most other retailers."

CHRIS REIDY

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