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Kohl's Announces Southland Stores

The Wisconsin-based retailer plans to open 28 stores in cities including Ventura and Riverside in its push West.

November 13, 2002|Abigail Goldman | Times Staff Writer

Kohl's Corp., a retailer known for selling trendy, brand-name apparel at value prices, said Tuesday that it will open 28 stores in Southern California in the spring, the company's first foray into Southern California and its biggest step toward expansion throughout the Western United States.

Financial analysts and shoppers familiar with the Wisconsin-based retailer have been waiting for official word of the company's move here, rumored for more than a year, because of the company's success in offering middle-market shoppers a jazzy alternative.

The retailer declined to list specific sites, but said cities to get stores include Simi Valley, Ventura, Ontario, Riverside, Rancho Santa Margarita, Temecula and Corona. A company spokeswoman declined to say whether any stores were planned for Los Angeles County.

To support the stores, Kohl's plans next month to open a 651,000-square-foot distribution center at the former Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino.

The store sites are consistent with the suburban format adopted by Kohl's, which as of October operated 457 stores in 33 states. Most of the company's stores are in areas outside major metropolitan areas, often in smaller strip centers, rather than large shopping malls, with central parking right in the front of the store.

"It is, we feel, a very significant expansion," said Kohl's spokeswoman Susan Henderson. "This represents us becoming a national retailer having a coast-to-coast presence."

Shares of Kohl's, which made the announcement before the market closed, rose 75 cents to $61.06 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Although the chain has been growing quickly and plans to open 80 stores across the country in 2003, its Western expansion had gone only as far as Denver.

But with an Inland Empire distribution center and a Southern California beachhead, Kohl's is gearing up for more stores and already has announced plans for moves into the Phoenix and Las Vegas areas.

Kohl's has flourished as a hybrid of a department store and a discounter, offering upscale brands with mass merchant touches -- such as front parking lots, shopping carts and a central bank of checkout stands.

For the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2001, Kohl's reported its sixth consecutive year of earnings growth in excess of 30%. Net income for the year rose 33% to $496 million from $372 million the year before.

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