2 discount apparel stores to open in area by mid-November; A. J. Wright to oppose Target, Wal-Mart in G. Burnie, Woodlawn; Ties to T. J. Maxx, Marshalls; Merchandising


The retailer behind T. J. Maxx and Marshalls will bring an off-price concept targeted to lower-income shoppers to Maryland in November, with the opening of two A. J. Wright stores.

TJX Cos. of Framingham, Mass., is going head-to-head with discounters Target and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. with the chain it launched last September.

A. J. Wright stores will open by mid-November in the redeveloped Harundale Mall in Glen Burnie and in Meadows Park Shopping Center on Security Boulevard in Woodlawn.

Like T. J. Maxx and Marshalls, the new chain will sell branded apparel at a discount. It promises 20 percent to 70 percent off prices at mass discounters and national chains such as Sears, Roebuck and Co. and J. C. Penney Co. Inc.

But rather than targeting middle-income shoppers, "We are catering to a slightly more moderate-income customer," said Arnold Barron, senior vice president, group executive for the TJX Cos. "This particular segment of the marketplace has never been given the opportunity to get great off-price values. We're really doing what we've done for the department store customer with T. J. Maxx and Marshalls, and trying to create that same shopping experience for the discount-store customer."

The A. J. Wright chain opened a year ago in the Boston area and has expanded throughout New England, including to Connecticut and Rhode Island. The company entered Virginia's Hampton Roads market in the spring and will open two stores in Detroit this fall. By mid-November, the chain will have 15 stores, Barron said.

More A. J. Wright stores will likely open in the Baltimore area, which has four T. J. Maxx stores and six Marshalls, Barron said. A. J. Wright will carry more moderately priced brands in men's, women's and children's apparel and domestic goods than at T. J. Maxx or Marshalls, Barron said. TJX can offer lower prices by buying later in the season and having a smaller line.

"It makes a lot of sense," said Sally H. Wallick, a retail analyst for Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. in Baltimore. "No one has tried to do this before. There's no reason the moderate-income customer wouldn't want off-price values just like anybody else might.

"In a T. J. Maxx you might see Jones New York, and it might be a great bargain. To someone on a moderate income, that price point may still be too high for them."

For its most recent quarter, which ended July 31, TJX reported earnings of 36 cents per share, with net income up 35 percent to $114.7 million.

Pub Date: 9/24/99

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