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Anna's Continues Expansion

Purchase of 26 Plej's Stores Increases Footing

Anna's Linens grabbed another windfall cluster of stores that will further boost its unit base as it heads toward an Initial Public Offering in early 2006.

Anna's acquisition of 14 of 26 liquidating Plej's Linen Supermarket stores was approved by the bankruptcy court Oct. 27. The 93-year-old Plej's, which filed for Chapter 7 in late summer, began going-out-of-business sales Oct. 20. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Anna's will take possession of the units Jan. 1 and will reopen them as Anna's by early February, according to Alan Gladstone, chairman, president and CEO.

The deal puts Anna's into two new states — North and South Carolina — and gives it access to three major markets in the area: Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Raleigh-Durham. Anna's expects to end 2005 with 215 stores and will announce other 2006 new markets at a later date.

“That will be our first entrée, and we intend to supplement it with additional locations in the year,” Gladstone said.

Plej's locations match Anna's target demographics, which focus on blue collar and ethnic consumers, Gladstone said.

“These have been linens stores for many years. In our history, taking over former linens stores has proved to be a good strategy,” he added.

This is the second time Anna's has gone shopping at Plej's. In spring 2004, it picked up six former Plej's units in Miami to accelerate it push into Florida. Anna's now operates 16 stores in the state.

Meanwhile, some of Anna's 25 hurricane-impacted stores are still digging out. Six in New Orleans and Mobile remain closed, although Mobile should reopen by Thanksgiving, Gladstone said. A damaged store in Ft. Lauderdale reopened last week.

As for the fourth quarter, the company is “pleased at where we are looking going into the holiday season,” he said.

Holiday is big for Anna's, he added. Hot sellers include seasonal goods, cold weather products and table linens — an area Gladstone said “is growing by leaps and bounds.”

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