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Value City's new message

Building customer traffic is on the agenda for Value City Department Stores, including changing the department stores' image to invoke more of a need to shop, especially targeting customers who have not visited in a while, executives said during its first quarter conference call.

Its message of "strong and memorable" is not necessarily one of "try us now" said Ed Kozlowski, evp and coo. "We're in the creative stages of adding a greater sense of urgency in our message."

The department store segment will also begin various systems upgrades, including a new point-of-sale system to be integrated during the second quarter that will improve operating efficiencies and provide better merchandise flexibility, and which will be ready by the holiday season.

New merchandising and warehouse management systems will also go into development into 2004, which will begin benefiting the division in the later half.

"These two systems provide a solid base for department stores to build upon," said Kozlowski.

The company's Filene's division is also in the beginning stages of merchandise repositioning, said Jim McGrady, cfo, to create in-store excitement of brand and designer merchandise. It has also begun the slowdown of use of point of sale discounts on regular-priced merchandise to enhance price credibility.

Filene's Jerry Politzer, evp, merchandising, and Heywood Wilansky, president, are working to upgrade Filene's merchandising strategy and pricing to reflect its current market position and brand qualities, said John Rossler, president and ceo, Value City Department Stores.

Net sales for the first quarter ended May 3 increased 0.4 percent to $588.5 million, and comp-store sales decreased 4.4 percent. At the end of the quarter, the company operated 116 Value City department stores, 129 DSW Shoe Warehouse locations and 20 Filene's Basement stores.

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