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The TJX Companies extends its e-commerce reach

BY CSA STAFF

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — The TJX Companies has acquired Sierra Trading Post, an off-price Internet retailer based in Cheyenne, Wyoming, for approximately $200 million in cash.

The purchase was financed from TJX’s existing cash balances.

Sierra Trading Post is a privately held company that launched its e-commerce business in 1999. The company has successfully grown its business to more than $200 million in annual revenue, and has a strong organization of approximately 700 associates with substantial e-commerce experience and expertise.

As part of this transaction, TJX acquired Sierra’s office, fulfillment center and photography studios in Cheyenne, Wyoming, its customer call centers in Cheyenne and Cody, Wyoming, and its four outlet stores in Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming.

“We are very pleased with the addition of Sierra Trading Post to the TJX family. We continue to plan on launching e-commerce sites for TJX brands and this acquisition adds immediate scale, capabilities and infrastructure in e-commerce, which we can leverage in that regard. We believe we will be able to build upon this platform as we continue to develop our e-commerce strategy. Further, we are confident that TJX can help grow the Sierra business profitably through our buying scale, marketing and our other capabilities,” said Carol Meyrowitz, CEO of the TJX Companies.

“As an off-price online retailer, Sierra Trading Post shares many characteristics with TJX. As we do, Sierra offers branded apparel, footwear and home furnishings at great values, has a very loyal customer base, strong vendor relationships, and operates with a low cost structure. We also see Sierra’s management team, with their deep Internet retailing experience, as a complement to the strong e-commerce team we have built within TJX,” added Meyrowitz.

The TJX Companies operates 1,039 T.J. Maxx, 912 Marshalls and 417 HomeGoods stores in the United States; 222 Winners, 88 HomeSense and 14 Marshalls stores in Canada and 344 T.K. Maxx and 24 HomeSense stores in Europe.

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Sainsbury names gold medal board member

BY CSA STAFF

Leading U.K. retailer J. Sainsbury named Jean Tomlin to its board as a non-executive director, effective January 1, 2013.

Tomlin’s appointment follows the previously announced retirement of Anna Ford from her role as non-executive director, effective December 31. In addition to her overall board contribution, Tomlin will chair the company’s corporate responsibility committee and sit on the remuneration and nomination committees.

Tomlin is the HR director for the London 2012 Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, where she oversaw the creation and execution of the hugely successful Games Maker volunteering program. She was previously group HR director at Marks & Spencer plc, HR director of Egg plc and sales and operations director of Prudential Direct.

Tomlin began her career as a graduate at Ford Motor Company working in personnel, training and labour relations and has also held a number of non-executive roles, serving on the board of the Greenwich Healthcare Trust and the Student Loans Company. She has also been a commissioner for judicial appointments, a member of the qualifications and curriculum advisory board, the race relations advisory group, and a trustee of CIDA (a South African self-funding university).

“We’re delighted to welcome Jean to our board. Her unique experience and breadth of skills will be a great addition to the board and we particularly look forward to her leadership of the corporate responsibility committee which contributes significantly to the success of Sainsbury’s,” said Sainsbury’s chairman David Tyler on Tomlin’s appointment.

“Sainsbury’s has an outstanding reputation and, with 22 million customers and 150,000 colleagues, touches so many areas of day-to-day life. I very much look forward to playing my part in the company’s future progress,” added Tomlin.

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Online sales up in November, traffic down

BY CSA STAFF

Online sales have continue to break new records this holiday season even though traffic to top retail sites during November was down compared to the same month the prior year.

Online measurement firm comScore Media Metrix released its top 50 Web properties report for November 2012 and it showed traffic at Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Sears were below prior year levels. The firm showed Walmart.com with 55.8 million unique visitors compared to 58.5 million unique visitors during November 2011. Walmart was ranked 18th on the top 50 list both years. Conversely, 6th ranked Amazon.com was shown to have 116 million unique visitors in November 2012 compared to 112.8 million last year. Walmart was not alone in reporting a decline in web traffic during November. Only three other retailers made the top 50, including Target ranked 28th with 37.3 million unique visitors, Best Buy ranked 31st with 35.7 million unique visitors and Sears ranked 43 with 28.9 million visitors. All three saw a decline from November the prior year when Target had 40.1 million visitors, Best buy had 36.5 million visitors and Sears had 31 million visitors.

Because online sales are well above prior year levels the drop in traffic is explained by the fact that shoppers are even more comfortable purchasing online this year, know exactly what they are looking for and conversion rates have improved.

"Online holiday promotions began in earnest almost as soon as the calendar flipped to November, as retailers hoped to draw in those ambitious early-season shoppers," said Jeff Hackett, EVP of comScore. "As we moved later into the month, the promotional activity surged even higher around Black Friday and Cyber Monday as consumers spent record amounts online. Numerous retail categories saw huge gains for the month, with toys and consumer electronics sites posting the sharpest month-over-month gains."

Retail sites had a near-monopoly on the top-gaining categories chart in November, as the entire category grew 5% to 191 million visitors – representing 87% of the total U.S. online population. Toys ranked as the fastest-growing category with a 30% increase compared to October’s to 23.9 million visitors. Toysrus sites led the category with 12.4 million visitors (up 54%), followed by The LEGO Group with 3.8 million (up 34%), Disney Shopping with 2 million (up 11%), AmericanGirl.com with 1.9 million (up 60%) and Fisher Price with 1.3 million (up 28%).

Consumer Electronics sites were a close second on the top-gaining categories chart, up 29% to 59.7 million visitors. BestBuy.com ranked first in the category with 35.1 million visitors (up 90%), followed by Samsung Group with 5.4 million (up 22%) and eBay Electronics U.S. with 5.2 million (up 14%). RadioShack Corporation doubled its traffic base to 4.4 million, while Buy.com Group Sites rounded out the top five with 4.1 million.

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