Exits and Alibis at TJX

by MR Magazine Staff

NEW YORK – The TJX Companies, the off-price retailer currently coming to grips with a breach in its computer security, disclosed two resignations as its new chief executive officer stepped into her new role.

As it was hit with a lawsuit pertaining to the hacking scandal, the Framingham, Mass.-based retailer also took its side of the computer imbroglio to the public with a series of newspaper advertisements and a seven-minute video on its Web site featuring Ben Cammarata, chairman.

At the same time, TJX disclosed in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Alexander Smith had resigned as senior executive vice president and group president of TJX and that Gary Crittenden, executive vice president and chief financial officer of American Express, had resigned from its board.

No reason was given for either departure. Crittenden had been a TJX director since 2000 and Smith, who’d been with TJX since 1995, had held his most recent post since 2004.

As planned, Carol Meyrowitz, president and a director of TJX, officially became CEO of TJX on Sunday. She succeeds Cammarata, who’d been acting CEO and continues as chairman and a director.

TJX was hit by a lawsuit seeking class-action status in federal court in Boston on Monday, alleging the firm had been negligent in failing to protect customer data and by waiting to announce the discovery of the breach into its credit- and debit-card information. The suit, AP reported, seeks monitoring of credit-card activity and compensation for any damages caused.

But TJX said in newspaper ads and on its Web site that the month separating the discovery of the scam, in mid-December, and the disclosure itself, on Jan. 17, gave TJX time “to contain the problem and further strengthen our computer network to prevent further intrusion,” Cammarata said in a letter. “Therefore, we believe we were working in the best interests of our customers.”

The note also ruled out the possibility that customer data about TJX’s Bob’s Stores division was compromised. Additionally, it said, debit cards issued by Canadian banks weren’t a part of the breach.

The security violations involved transactions from 2003 and during the latter half of 2006. So far it is believed that the compromised information has been used for purchases in Florida, Georgia and Louisiana as well as in Hong Kong and Sweden.

In addition to Bob’s, TJX, the largest off-price retailer in the U.S., operates T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, A.J. Wright and HomeGoods in the U.S. as stores under separate nameplates in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland.