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Image: Gucci

TJX Companies, the off-price retail group that owns TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Home Goods, routinely brings in more money than some of fashion’s most sought-after brands and well-known conglomerates, and 2018 was no different. According to its full year earnings report, which was released late last month, Framingham, MA-based TJX Co. saw revenues of $35.9 billion, in its “23rd consecutive year of comparative sales growth.”

To put that nearly $36 billion figure into perspective, it is over $20 billion more than Gucci’s parent company made in 2018. Kering, the Paris-based conglomerate that not only owns Gucci, but Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, and Bottega Veneta, among others, brought in $15.3 billion in revenue for 2018, in furtherance of what its chairman François-Henri Pinault called an “outstanding” year and a “significant outperformance of our sector.”

TJX Co. had an ever better year. Speaking on an earnings call this week, TJX Co. CEO Ernie Herrman said 2018 is the latest example of the group’s “long and steady track record.” The most recent quarter, he noted, was the “18th consecutive [one] in which customer traffic was up.”

Another key takeaway from the call? Marshalls’ notorious physical-stores-only approach is set to change. Herrman revealed that 63-year old Marshalls – one of the marquee names under the TJX umbrella, and one of its top-earners, along with TJ Maxx – plans to launch a shoppable website for the first time ever beginning this year.

The news is striking, as Marshalls has notoriously sworn off e-commerce and has existed in an entirely brick-and-mortar capacity since its founding in 1956. Instead of joining the hordes of brands and retailers, even luxury ones, that have rushed online to “meet consumers where they are,” the off-priced retailer – which routinely offers up everything from athleisure wares to a supply of Givenchy garments and Gucci bags – has long opted to stick to exclusively selling out of its brick-and-mortar stores, thereby, doubling-down on the “treasure hunt” experience that has made it a shopping destination for consumers across the U.S.

All the while, the company has consistently proven to be an interesting player in the market, in large part because it has managed to post extraordinary sales growth – and rising foot traffic – at a time when it is widely understood that much of the retail sector is in a tailspin and an increasing number of retailers are resorting to chapter 11 bankruptcy for assistance.

Referencing the lessons learned from Marshalls’ sister brand TJ Maxx, which  launched an e-commerce site in 2013, its second attempt at online sales after taking an unsuccessful $15 million swing at it in 2005 and  swiftly closing up shop not long after, Herrman revealed that a supplemental online presence is expected to actually “drive incremental store traffic” and boost in-store sales, as “a large percentage of returns [for] online [purchases take place] in stores.” In other words, the addition of an online element “is going to encourage cross-shopping.”

Chances are, with the impending online segment for its prized Marshalls company, which will boast offerings that differ from those in-store in order to “prevent cannibalization of sales,” TJX will only continue to bring in sales significantly higher than some of luxury’s biggest names.