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The question of whether there is enough merchandise availability to support TJX’s continued growth has been asked of us since we opened our first stores 35 years ago. Today, with over 2,900 stores and growing, our answer remains the same – availability has never been an issue! Over the last three-plus decades, we have built a flexible, value-driven, global "sourcing machine." We have over 700 people in our buying organization, operate 12 buying offices in nine countries, and source product in more than 60 countries. Our vast vendor universe, which numbers over 15,000, and our nearly $23 billion global buying presence are major factors in our ability to source quality product for our growing store base. Our top approximately 25 vendors comprise only about one quarter of the total product we buy, with thousands of vendors accounting for the remainder.*
We believe we have some of the best vendor relationships in the retail industry, yet we are constantly working to make our current relationships even stronger and forge new ones. In 2011, we continued to add new vendors and expand our global sourcing, further enhancing our flexibility. Our buyers are in the marketplace virtually every week, and with "no walls" between departments in our stores, we can easily shift merchandise categories to take advantage of market opportunities. We are able to buy in so many different ways and believe that we are an attractive outlet for vendors. We are willing to purchase less-than-full assortments of items, styles, and sizes and quantities ranging from small to very large. In addition, we are able to disperse inventory across a wide geography, we pay promptly, and we generally do not ask for return, markdown or advertising allowances that are typical in the retail industry. Whether the vendor marketplace is running with leaner inventories or excess inventories, TJX has always found opportunity. Leaner inventories generally has meant that the retail environment is less promotional, which raises the pricing umbrella between TJX and traditional retailers. Excess inventory in the vendor marketplace typically has led to lower costs of goods for TJX. Either way, we win! Neither quantity nor quality of product has ever been an issue for us and we are confident that it will not be in the future.
* As of FYE12