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Bed Bath & Beyond eager to grow

Union, N.J. –Bed Bath & Beyond opened its first international store in Ontario, Canada last December – and the $7.0 billion specialty retailer is ready for much more.

“We hope to expand aggressively in Canada, and to be the first choice for the home in Canada,” said BBB co-chairman Warren Eisenberg during last evening’s first-quarter earnings call.

Added president and ceo Steven Temares, “We believe the Canadian market has outstanding growth potential for us.”

Last month BBB followed up on that with a foray into Mexico via a joint venture with privately held retailer Home & More, which currently operates two stores in Mexico City.

How will future growth shape up? The plan for the current fiscal year is to open 50 to 55 new BBB stores in the United States and Canada. In addition, the 981-unit company has signed or is in the process of finalizing about 12 more sites in Canada and is in “active negotiations” for an additional dozen or so.

Still, Temares said the number of new BBB store openings is less than in prior years, as part of the company’s tactic to “afford us flexibility to take advantage of real estate opportunity that might arise from further retail consolidation, if we so choose.”

In results for the quarter ended May 31, BBB yesterday reported net earnings of $76.8 million or $.30 per diluted share. This was down sharply from $104.6 million or $.38 per diluted share in the year-ago period, however it beat analysts’ expectations by several cents per share, and BBB stock was trading about 6% higher today – counter to the retail sector’s general share price falloff of about 3%.

Quarterly net sales of $1.65 billion were up 6.1% from $1.55 billion one year ago; comps grew by 0.8%.

The company’s other nameplates are slated for expansion, too. BBB will “accelerate our growth” of the Christmas Tree Shops by 12 stores and buybuyBABY by a less precise “several” new units this year, and will open Harmon store concepts as departments within “a number of” BBB and Christmas Tree locations.

Also in the works is the addition of fine china to “a number” of BBB stores.

Overall, BBB’s long-term real estate goal remains to operate more than 1,300 stores, Eisenberg said.

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