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A.J.Wright Stores Closing, 4,400 Jobs Cut

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Framingham-based TJX Cos. says it is shuttering its A.J. Wright discount stores by mid-February.

Framingham-based TJX Cos. says it is shuttering its A.J. Wright discount stores by mid-February.

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FRAMINGHAM (AP/CBS) — Framingham-based TJX Cos. says it is shuttering its A.J. Wright discount stores by mid-February, cutting 4,400 jobs and converting some stores to other brands such as T.J. Maxx.

Ninety-one stores will be converted into T.J. Maxx, Marshalls or HomeGoods stores, and 71 will close entirely, along with two distribution centers. About 3,400 staffers will remain employed at the converted stores.

WBZ-TV’s Bill Shields reports.

The move hits local employees hard. The A.J. Wright headquarters in Framingham will closed, as will a distribution center in Fall River and stores in Fitchburg, Malden, Medford, Methuen, New Bedford, Quincy, Somerville, Springfield (Lowe’s Plaza), Waltham, Worcester (Perkins Farms Plaza), and Nashua will be closing.

About 800 workers are employed in the Fall River distribution center. More than 1,000 people work for A.J. Wright state-wide.

“All associates will have the opportunity to be compensated through the holiday season, and about half of the positions will be retained through late January,” CEO Carol Meyrowitz said.

WBZ News Radio’s New England Business Editor Anthony Silva talks with Analyst Ken Perkins of Retail Metrics in Swampscott about the A.J. Wright chain closing.

All 162 A.J. Wright stores will close by mid-February; 91 will reopen under a different name after eight weeks.

TJX said the move allows the company to focus on its more profitable businesses. Most positions cut are part time.

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 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 benefitted 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.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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