Pier 1, TJX Grapple Over CEO

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LAS VEGAS – The TJX Companies is upset with Pier 1 Imports’ choice of Alex W. Smith as its new chief executive, but Pier 1 has gone to court to keep TJX from doing anything about it.

Pier 1 brought suit in a state district court in El Paso, Texas, after TJX sent a letter to Pier 1 threatening legal action if Alex W. Smith, as planned, joins Pier 1 next week as president and CEO. TJX claims the move would violate the non-competition clause of Smith’s TJX contract. Smith formerly was senior executive vice president of TJX.

Pier 1 announced Smith’s appointment on 30 January, just after TJX announced Smith’s resignation.

Pier 1 officials have stated that they don’t directly compete with TJX, which operates off-price stores under nameplates including T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, A.J. Wright and Bob’s Stores. However, sources indicated, TJX might claim that its HomeGoods chain does compete with Pier 1, which could set up a dispute over whether so-called “full-price” specialty chains compete with so-called “off-price” stores.

AP reported that Tom Thomas, a Pier 1 director, said, “We had no choice but to take legal action to protect Pier 1 against further interference by TJX with our employment agreement with our new president and CEO, Alex Smith.”

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