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Kohl's eyes less-populated markets with prototypes

With its entry into new markets such as Boston, Nashville, and Houston during the first half performing ahead of plan, Kohl's announced that it will test the waters in smaller, less-populated markets with the opening of four new prototype stores.

The 60,000-sq.-ft. stores grand opened last week in Beaver Dam, WI; Clinton, IA; and Gaylord, MI, with an additional unit opening in October in Wilkesboro, NC.

The stores carry the same branded merchandise as that of the company's typical 87,000 sq. ft. department stores, ceo Larry Montgomery said during the company's second quarter conference call earlier this month.

Montgomery reiterated the retailer's plans to open approximately 80 new stores in 2003, including some 30-35 in the spring, with the remainder opening in the fall. The new stores will also bring Kohl's into the Los Angeles and Phoenix markets.

He also acknowledged the company's potential interest in acquiring some Ames locations — as the failed Northeastern discounter liquidates its inventory and closes its remaining stores — as a means to entering new markets.

"We will keep our eyes peeled," he said. "We have a good idea of the real estate portfolio of Ames and a history of taking advantage of such opportunities."

The company attributed a large portion of its positive second quarter results to an increase in sales of apparel and women's accessories, as well as its Get It and Table & Towers programs. Net sales increased 26.8 percent for the second quarter ended Aug. 3 to $1.9 billion from $1.5 billion a year ago. Comp-store sales increased 10.6 percent.

For the six months, net sales increased 26.2 percent to $3.8 billion from $3.0 billion in the year-ago period. Comps increased 9.6 percent.

Looking forward to the second half and key Back-To-School selling season, Mongtomery likes the company's prospects.

"We've got tremendous momentum going into the second half; we will continue to grab market share," he said.

The company issued a guidance for mid single-digit comps for August and September.

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