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Costco Ramps Up Expansion

Costco Wholesale Corp. is heating up expansion plans for its fiscal year 2006 with more store openings than originally expected, the company reported during its third quarter earnings conference call last week.

“Our expansion is deliberately and definitely ramping up,” said Richard Galanti, executive vice president and chief financial officer. “I can hopefully and finally say with some confidence that we're going to see some good expansion next year. We've got a lot on the schedule going forward for '07. We've got a lot going on.”

The company said it will open in fiscal year 2006 at least 25 to 30 units, “many more under way now in comparison to last year,” Galanti continued.

Already under construction from that group are 12 units slated for opening during the first 12 weeks of 2006.

For this fiscal year, because of construction delays and environmental issues, two of its 19 new units set to open have been pushed back into next fiscal year, with openings scheduled for September and November, respectively.

In news related to third quarter performance, the company said hard lines and fresh goods were in line with its overall 7 percent comp for the period; food, sundries and soft lines were below the company average.

But within the soft lines category, strong performers included domestics and home furnishings, as well as jewelry and watches.

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