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Ross continues dd's Discounts

Despite a difficult quarter affected by problems with its new Core Merchandising System and the resulting limitations on tracking consumer trends, Ross Stores plans to continue rolling out its down-marketed dd's Discounts concept, which opened its first three of 10 doors last week.

"These stores are conveniently located in smaller neighborhood shopping centers, in more densely populated urban and suburban areas in the Oakland, Sacramento and Fresno (Northern California) markets," said Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and CEO.

While the company said it is too early to gauge customers' responses to the new concept targeting lower income families, Ross expects dd's Discounts to potentially grow to 500 locations with "the ability to significantly enhance our growth prospects over the next five to 10 years," Balmuth said.

"We want to get through this fall to see how customers are responding and see the differences," he said. "In terms of marketing, we are doing grand opening (events), testing new marketing tools, and we'll have better picture over the next six months on how we want to market these stores."

The 25,000-square-foot dd's Discounts stores offer the same categories as Ross Stores, Balmuth said. They include: apparel, footwear and accessories for men, ladies, juniors and children, as well as fashion and basic home products.

"At dd's Discounts, our mission is to deliver terrific bargains on moderate department and national discount store brands in a convenient, accessible, easy-to-shop environment," he said. "Although the value focus is similar, the majority of labels in these new stores will be different from the brands featured at our Ross stores."

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