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Jennifer Marks

Anna's Linens Goes Up a Size

Anna's Linens continues to snap up opportunistic property leases, most recently closing on eight former Factory 2-U locations that will push the number of new Anna's openings for 2004 above 50.

More importantly, the value-driven retail concept, which targets blue-collar and ethnic neighborhoods, could be ready to float an initial public offering sometime next year, according to Alan Gladstone, chairman, president and CEO.

“It's certainly possible,” he said. “Our growth this year — top line and bottom line — should exceed any prior year.”

Anna's grew its top line in 2003 by roughly 50 percent to $165 million. Its comps this year have been running above budget through the first eight months, Gladstone said. Performance at new stores this year “has also exceeded expectations handily,” he said.

The new lease acquisitions join 10 other former Factory 2-U leases Anna's has picked up in Texas, Arizona and California. All will be open by year-end, at which time Anna's will be operating more than 170 stores — a 90 percent boost over the 2002 store count.

Earlier this year, Anna's also acquired six former Plej's units in Miami, dovetailing with its market entry there. Other new market entries in 2004 have included El Paso, San Antonio, Dallas and Chicago — Anna's first true cold-weather market.

Anna's opened five stores last month on the south side of Chicago as well as in Evanston, an affluent northern suburb that is also home to Northwestern University, which has a student population of more than 13,600.

The company will open four more stores in Chicago prior to the holidays, and Gladstone said the market holds the potential to accommodate up to 30 Anna's units.

“We're introducing cold-weather product much earlier than we do in our other stores and running it much deeper in selection,” he said. “All of the merchandise categories are performing above plan in Chicago.”

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