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Kohl's prepares to enter new markets

With the end of a profitable 2001, Kohl's has already embarked on its growth plan for 2002, with 38 stores opening in the first quarter, said Larry Montgomery, ceo, during the retailer's fourth quarter conference call last week.

The retailer will bow in two markets this quarter: Houston, with 12 stores opening this weekend, and Boston, with 13 locations scheduled to open next month, as well as other fill-ins in Nashville, TN; Dallas; and the New York tri-state area.

Thirty-two stores are slated to open in the fall, including four in the new market of Providence, RI. In addition, 22 stores will be remodeled and two will be relocated, focusing on the Milwaukee market, he said. All new stores and remodels still meet the company's average of 86,500 square feet.

Next year will bring the much-anticipated entry into the Southwestern markets, starting with Los Angeles in the spring, though the number of locations is still being finalized, Montgomery added. The Phoenix and Las Vegas markets are scheduled for the fall of 2003. The San Bernadino, CA-located distribution center, which will support these stores, is under construction and will be open by the end of this year.

President Kevin Mansell delved into the merchandise expansion of the Get It and Table and Tower programs. Get It expanded in the fall to include product from all of Kohl's major businesses, including home, and that will continue, as the number of items offered will increase. The launches for spring were very strong, he said, and consist of a large infiltration of branded items.

Its Table and Tower program for spring, called More Ways To Renew, includes apparel, home and accessories.

As the retailer enters new markets, the company also encounters new demographics and is pleased with what it has learned about the Hispanic market after partnering up with a Hispanic ad agency. Some of the new data includes what types of sizes, colors and brands will work better than others. Mansell said Kohl's accelerated the El Paso, TX, openings to specifically get a handle on this demographic in a two-store market before opening up in larger Hispanic markets, like Houston and Los Angeles.

Mansell also added that the company continues to focus on the improvement and productivity of its print, broadcast and direct mail campaigns.

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