November 16, 2010 8:48 pm
This profile is part of the FT’s 2010 Women at the Top ranking of 50 prominent businesswomen around the world.
14. Carol Meyrowitz, 56
Three-year TSR: 59.1%
This is Carol Meyrowitz’s third year as chief executive of the leading US discount or “off-price” retailer, one that encompasses TJ Maxx (TK Maxx in the UK), Marshalls, Home Goods and AJ Wright Stores. The group has grown throughout the recession, adding stores, expanding into new territories and taking advantage of the focus on value shopping.
Meyrowitz, whose father was a New York furrier, joined TJX in 1987, but she got the top job when TJX was reeling from one of the largest security crimes in US history. Targeted by criminals now in jail, 40m of the company’s customers had their credit card details stolen in an elaborate computer hacking operation, one that might have damaged consumer confidence for good. However, under Meyrowitz, the retailer has not only survived, but thrived too.
TJX reported revenue growth of 6.9 per cent in 2009, to $20bn, and net income up 38 per cent. It operates 2,700 stores in six countries and manages a fast-moving, low-inventory business model, sourcing merchandise globally. Meyrowitz refers not only to the discount prices at TJ Maxx, which are 20-60 per cent lower than those at regular stores, but to the exciting “treasure hunt” shopping experience that keeps customers coming back.
Talking to the FT earlier this year, Meyrowitz said: “We believe there has been a paradigm shift among customers: regardless of whether the economy is weak or strong, value is not going out of fashion. If some of our newly acquired customers go back to shopping at their favourite high-end department stores … that does not mean they’ll stop shopping with us.”
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