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Jo-Ann closes in on end of turnaround

Nearing completion of its turnaround strategy, Jo-Ann Stores Inc. is well-positioned for the fourth quarter in spite of the uncertain holiday climate as well as comparisons against record earnings in last year's fourth quarter and fewer selling days, executives said during the company's recent third quarter conference call.

The executives also noted that the company is optimistic about next year and that at the end of this fiscal year it will have essentially achieved all of its turnaround milestones in just one year, well ahead of the scheduled two-year plan.

"We've completed our transition from a turnaround story to a growth story," said Alan Rosskamm, chairman and ceo. "Over the past 12 months, we have surprised ourselves at the speed and strength of our recovery."

In addition, next year the company will expand its supercenter format with 15 to 20 new units opening in the second and third quarters. Superstores, which measure 35,000 square feet, or 25 percent smaller than the original format, have accounted for 25 percent of year-to-date total revenue. At the end of the third quarter, the company had 71 supercenters and 870 traditional stores.

Same-store sales gains for the traditional stores at the end of the third quarter were 6.2 percent, driven mostly by an average ticket increase, while the superstore format had same-store sales gains of 7.6 percent, with 70 percent of that attributed to an increase in customer traffic and the balance of that in a growing average ticket.

Year-to-date comp-store sales gains for the traditional stores was 8.9 percent, while for the superstores it was 9.5 percent. The company also said that fleece performed well during the third quarter, due to a vast selection and cooler weather, and that in the home decorating area, textiles sales have been strong all year.

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