ShopKo readies remodels

New York — After reducing its debt by $381 million over the past two years, ShopKo is now turning its attention to its stores, which include 11 just-completed Pamida remodelled prototypes and plans to open two ShopKo remodelled prototypes this fall. "We've gone from investing in debt reduction to investing for growth," said Sam Duncan, president and ceo, at the U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray consumer conference held here last week.

This year's capital expenditures will total $80 million — more than 150 percent higher than the allotment for 2002 — one quarter of which is slated for remodels, decor and a pharmacy investment. Another quarter is earmarked for technology improvements.

ShopKo has not opened a new store in three years, and the company is testing or will test new prototypes for both divisions, which "will tell us a lot and whether we are on the right track." In the stores now, however, "home decor will have a strong emphasis," said Duncan, and areas such as RTA furniture are expanding.

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