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Expanded domestics assortment part of new Fred’s

Memphis, Tenn. – Southeastern discount convenience retailer Fred’s Inc. has its eye on major positive results during the second half of 2007, said president and ceo Michael Hayes at this week’s Lehman Brothers Retail Conference.

The store refresher program hit 200 stores alone in April, with repainting, refixturing and re-signing, and 70 stores with a fully completed reset. This is part of the 550-store refit that includes eliminating the boys and girls apparel departments in favor of expanded pets, stationery, electronics – and domestics – said Hayes.

New federal minimum wage laws, Hayes said, will also benefit the $1.77 billion retailer, after an initial “head wind” effect. Along with new efficiencies in operations and a new “We Got It!” marketing campaign that stresses brands and rapid shopping trips, the company has sound estimates for the current year.

Jerry shore, evp and cfo, said the company will reach the 700-store mark this year (along with about 300 pharmacies). Fred’s has a net debt to capitalization of under 1%, he said. Shore projected a 2007 comp store rise of 3% to 5%, and an earnings boost of 12% to 22%.

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