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Retail briefs

Five new image-oriented spots broke during the broadcast.

At press time, two additional, one-time-only spots were slated to air on the ABC awards telecast. A 30-second pre-show spot promoted the "Superstar Dream Watch and Win Game," with a grand prize of $100,000, a trip for two to Hollywood and two tickets to the 2005 Oscar Pre-Show Red Carpet viewing area.

Bon-Ton appoints three executives

The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. has appointed three executives to help with the consolidation and integration of the Elder-Beerman and Bon-Ton companies.

James Lance was named senior vice president, chief information officer, reporting to James H. Baireuther, vice chairman and chief administrative officer. The change was effective November 2003. Prior to joining the company, Lance was senior vice president, chief information officer, for The Elder-Beerman Stores Corp. of Dayton, Ohio.

Joseph Culver was promoted to senior vice president of human resources, reporting to Bud Bergren, Bon-Ton's vice chairman. Prior to the promotion, Culver was vice president, human resources, at The Bon-Ton.

Deborah Rivera was promoted to senior vice president, general merchandise manager of The Bon-Ton's Ready to Wear Division, reporting to Frank Tworecke, president and chief operating officer.

JCPenney launched ads during Oscars

JCPenney aired a new ad campaign during the Academy Awards. The campaign played up the company's "it's all inside" tagline by asking viewers, "Have you seen what's inside?"

JCPenney touted the fact that it offers spring fashions, lingerie, fine jewelry, and custom-tailored solutions for homes: all at "JCPenney value."

Lowe's continues to expand

Lowe's opened 130 new stores in 2003, and will increase that rate of expansion with 140 new-stores openings in 2004 and 150 slated for 2005, said the company's chairman and CEO Robert L. Tillman during a fourth quarter conference call.

As for the fourth quarter specifically, Lowe's opened 47 new stores, including one relocation. As of Jan. 30, 2004, Lowe's operated 952 stores in 45 states containing 108.8 million square feet of retail selling space, a 14.8 percent increase over last year.

The company also noted that the number of stores that exceeded the $40 million in sales mark leapt from 170 in 2002 to around 232 last year. Additionally, Lowe's said store traffic was up 13 percent.

Lowe's President Robert Niblock said, "We continue to see strong results from our metro-market expansion, and our up-the-continuum merchandising strategy and branding initiatives continue to provide our customers the best products and services to meet their home improvement needs."

Rag Shops considers alternative strategy

Rag Shops has retained the investment banking firm of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey to provide financial advice and consider whether a sale, merger or some other corporate transaction can boost shareholder value.

"There is no assurance that any transaction will result from the engagement or that, if a transaction does occur, it will be on terms that all shareholders consider favorable," the company stated in a release.

Rag Shops operates approximately 69 stores and leased space of 809,500 square feet in other outlets. Sales for the first quarter ended Nov. 29, 2003, were $33.8 million, up 1.4 percent.

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