TJX Cos., the store’s parent company, announced Dec. 10 that it is closing its AJ Wright discount stores by mid-February.
The company has stores in the Stonecrest Marketplace in Lithonia, in the Belvedere Shopping Center on Memorial Drive in Decatur and in the Hairston Village Shopping Center in Stone Mountain.
TJX says it is cutting 4,400 jobs and converting some stores to other brands such as T.J. Maxx. Most positions are part time.
Nationwide, 91 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.
The Decatur and Stone Mountain locations are on the list of stores that are permanently closing.
AJ Wright opened two more stores in DeKalb County in August – in Doraville and Tucker – and each store employed about 100 workers.
TJX said the move allows the company, based in Framingham, Mass., to focus on its more profitable businesses.
“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.
All 162 AJ Wright stores will close by mid-February. And 91 will reopen under a different name after eight weeks.
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 AJ 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 AJ 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 AJ 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 AJ Wright stores.
The closing is not expected to affect TJX’s profitability much.
, RBC Capital Markets analyst Howard Tubin said in a note to investors. In 2009, AJ Wright generated operating profit of $13 million, compared with almost $2 billion for the entire company.