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Bedding a standout in home at Kohl’s  

Dana Bachman may go into home

Menomonee Falls, Wis. -- Bedding was among the best performing categories in Kohl’s home business, the mid-tier department store said during its first-quarter earnings call this morning.

The small appliance category was the other strength in home for the period.

That’s not to say Kohl’s was content with its quarterly results.

“All lines of business and regions reported decrease in comp sales,” said Kevin Mansell, president and ceo.

Still, home remains an area of focus for Kohl’s. Following the February launch of the Dana Buchman-branded exclusives classic lifestyle program in women’s apparel, accessories, intimates and footwear, the retailer expects the brand “ultimately may extend to home” as well as beauty and fragrance. A timeframe, however, was not offered.

“We are very excited about our recent merchandise initiatives [with Dana Buchman],” Mansell said. “Its sales significantly exceeded plans — and we’ve also seen lifts in our Chaps line since the Dana Buchman launch.” For the quarter, geographically the southwest was “the strongest region, and the southeast was the most difficult,” he added.

Kohl’s net income fell 10.5% to $137 million, or 45 cents per share. Sales were relatively flat -- down 0.4% to $3.6 billion, with comps off 4.2%.

With margins improving through inventory management and the company holding expenses under control, Kohl’s boosted its guidance for the full fiscal year to earnings per share of $2.19 to $2.42. It had originally projected EPS for $2.00 to $2.30.

In other news, the 1,022-unit chain opened 19 units in the first quarter, including its first site in Alaska — Kohl’s 49th state. Larry Montgomery, chairman of the board, said Kohl’s intends to open the remainder of the 56 new stores slated for 2008 by this fall. A “vast majority” will be former Mervyn’s stores.

“[Our acquisition of Mervyn’s] has put us in a strong position to be the retailer of choice in California,” he said, adding that California-based Kohl’s stores during the quarter posted positive mid-single comps.

Additionally, Kohl’s completed 20 remodels in March and plans to remodel an additional 31 stores this year — 12 in May and 19 in August for total of 51 remodels in 2008 — up from 36 last year.

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