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New TJX-Owned Retail Concept Opening 3 Stores In Md. and Va., Plans Nationwide Expansion

Amid a seemingly constant stream of retail closures across the U.S., one company is charting an aggressive expansion.

The Annapolis Plaza shopping center, where Homesense will open
The Annapolis Plaza shopping center, where HomeSense will open

HomeSense, a brand owned by TJX Cos., opened its first U.S. stores earlier this year in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, and will soon open stores in Maryland and Virginia. TJX CEO Ernie Hermann has said the company aims to ultimately roll out 400 of the stores nationwide. 

The chain has just signed on for two spaces in Annapolis and Fairfax formerly occupied by HH Gregg, which filed bankruptcy and closed its stores last year. In Annapolis, it will occupy a 33K SF space in Annapolis Plaza. Rappaport's Bill Dickinson and Jim Farrell represented the landlord, Beatson Cos., in the deal. It will be HomeSense's second Maryland location after it signed on for a store in Columbia, which it plans to open June 28. 

In Fairfax, HomeSense signed on for a 25K SF space at Fair Lakes Promenade. Farrell also represented the landlord, LaSalle Investment Management, in that deal. The Annapolis and Fairfax stores are expected to open in the fall. 

HH Gregg opened at the Fairfax space in 2011 as the chain was rapidly expanding through the region. But it began to struggle with declining sales each year after the opening, Farrell said, and was not bringing in enough people to the property. 

"The reason you sign anchor tenants is to be the 800-pound gorilla and bring in traffic," Farrell said. "Well, they weren't doing it. Now we’re talking about bringing in a concept from one of the most respected retailers in the industry, and we know they’re going to open strong and make it stronger every year thereafter."

The HomeSense brand has dozens of locations in Canada and Europe, but the U.S. stores will be part of a separate entity and will have slightly different offerings. The U.S. HomeSense stores will be similar to HomeGoods, another TJX brand in the U.S., but will be more high-end and have a larger selection of furniture, lighting, art and gifts. 

Farrell said HomeSense aims to open 20 to 25 stores a year, and he said they could accelerate that pace if stores perform well and more opportunities arise. He said they are actively in talks with other Northern Virginia landlords, who are chomping at the bit to have conversations with them, and he expects they could open four or five stores per year in the D.C. region over the next few years. 

"This is fertile ground for TJX," Farrell said. "They love the D.C. region." 

CORRECTION, JUNE 13, 3:40 P.M. ET: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the owner of Fair Lakes Promenade. It is owned by LaSalle Investment Management. The story has been updated.