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TJX To Close 10 A.J. Wright Stores In Mass., Cut Jobs

TJX Cos. announced Friday it is closing 10 stores in Massachusetts as the company completely shuts down its A.J. Wright discount retail chain.

The Framingham-based company is closing A.J. Wright stores from Springfield to Somerville. Workers at the 10 stores — many of them part-time — will lose their jobs. Another eight A.J. Wright stores will be converted into TJX’s other discount brands — T.J. Maxx, Marshalls or HomeGoods.

Retail analyst Patty Edwards, from Trutina Financial, says the A.J. Wright stores were in a tough market. She says it’s a good move for TJX to focus on its more profitable brands.

"It’s really better to just say, ‘Hey, we tried. It’s been nice, time to move along,' " Edwards said.

Most of the stores will stay open through the holiday shopping season and then close in January.

Nationwide, 4,400 jobs are being eliminated as the A.J. Wright chain is shuttered. Ninety-one stores will be converted into T.J. Maxx, Marshalls or HomeGoods stores, and 71 will be closed entirely, along with two distribution centers. About 3,400 staffers will remain employed at the converted stores.

CEO Carol Meyrowitz said that during the recession, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls began catering to a broader range of income brackets, on both the high and low ends.

"Over the past two years, we've learned how to better serve the A.J. Wright customer demographic with T.J. Maxx and Marshalls," Meyrowitz said. "We've seen very strong performance from our Marmaxx stores and demographic markets similar to those in which we have A.J. Wright stores."

After the cuts TJX will have about 150,000 staffers. As of December, the company operated 924 T.J. Maxx stores, 832 Marshalls and 36 HomeGoods in addition to the 162 A.J. Wright stores.

The Framingham company said it will cost $150 million to $170 million to close the stores and $12 million to $15 million for the store conversions.

TJX launched A.J. Wright in 1998 as a discount store brand similar to T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, selling clothing, home decor, shoes and other items, but it never performed quite as well as its sibling stores. T.J. Maxx and Marshalls have benefited as shoppers hunt for bargains due to high unemployment and the uncertain economy.

But A.J. Wright stores offered even lower-priced products than T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, and that turned out to be not as appealing to shoppers.

During the company's most recent quarter, revenue in stores open at least one year rose 1 percent at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, rose 3 percent at HomeGoods and fell 2 percent at A.J. Wright stores.

Shares rose 17 cents to $45.13 during afternoon trading.

WBUR's Curt Nickisch contributed reporting.

This program aired on December 10, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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