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Stein Mart aggressive about 2006

Jacksonville, Fla. – Stein Mart is striding into a new fiscal year ready to embark on its largest batch of new store openings in five years, an upgrade of its store transaction systems, and a revamped home department that focuses on fashion and shies away from promotions.

During its year-end and fourth quarter conference call this morning, the $1.5 billion mid-tier off-price chain offered details on its new initiatives, leading off with new stores.

“This ramp-up of openings, which represents the largest store opening program in five years, is in direct response to the enhanced performance we’re seeing in new stores opened under our more rigorous site selection process,” said Michael Fisher, president and ceo.

Currently at 261 total units, the planned count of new stores for 2006 is 20. Most will be in existing markets. But one of several new markets for this year is Queens, N.Y.

Another major initiative for this year, one that Fisher said “will begin to have real traction in the back-half of the year,” is the full impact of the reformat of the home area, which will be further enhanced with some “dramatic new assortments in the fall and some specific additions for holiday.” (For the full story on home, see HTT’s March 6 issue.)

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