Stein Mart announces new collection of stores

Jacksonville, FL — After weathering a tough economic period this past second quarter, Stein Mart is experimenting with a more compact and high-end version of its typical 36,000-square-foot store concept that will occupy less than half that space yet is expected to generate higher sales.

"[The new concept store] is a smaller footprint, but we do expect its sales productivity per square foot to be considerably higher than the existing Stein Mart stores," Michael Fisher, president and coo, said during the company's conference call yesterday to discuss its second-quarter earnings.

On Oct. 24, Stein Mart will open its first "collections of Stein Mart" prototype store in the posh community of Palos Verdes, CA, with another three to five more "collections" stores slated to open in other states in 2003. The company would not disclose the exact locations of the other new stores opening next year because of non-finalized lease agreements, except to say that at least one is expected to be located in the Southeast region. But all the collections stores will be strategically located in areas of high-end demographics, such as resort towns and premium real estate neighborhoods, and will be situated in specialty store districts, not in malls.

The new concept stores average about 15,000 square feet in size and will be stocked with only boutique-like goods — namely jewelry, fashion assortments, accessories, some women's sportswear and gifts.

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