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Wet Seal Plans Marketing Edge

NEW YORK -- Wet Seal is getting slicker on marketing platforms.<BR><BR>The specialty chain for teens and 20-somethings will relaunch its catalog in early fall, with a circulation seen at 1.25 million four times a year, and has a proprietary credit...

NEW YORK — Wet Seal is getting slicker on marketing platforms.

The specialty chain for teens and 20-somethings will relaunch its catalog in early fall, with a circulation seen at 1.25 million four times a year, and has a proprietary credit card in the works. Wet Seal is also planning “Seal TV” closed circuit TV and has attained press credentials so Wet Seal correspondents can be on the scene at fashion and awards shows to put together programs that will run on in-store video walls.

Those and other growth strategies were disclosed by Kathy Bronstein, chief executive and vice chairman, along with other officials of the Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based chain, at the Bear Stearns retail, restaurant and apparel conference here on Thursday.

Wet Seal, which lately has been on a roll, posted a surprising 21.5 percent comp gain for February.

The company expects to report earnings between $0.73 to $0.75 per diluted share for the 13 weeks ended Feb. 2, 2002, compared to $0.65 for last year’s period. For the year, earnings should be at $1.51 to $1.53, compared to $1.03 last year, per diluted share. Net sales for the 52-weeks were $601,895,000 compared to $571,390,000, and comps increased 4.7 percent.

The company operates 457 Wet Seals, 84 Arden B. stores and 30 Zutopia stores, for a total of 571 stores in 2,212,146 square feet. Stores are also being updated, with a runway of mannequins down the front, among other new features like the video walls.

Bronstein hopes to ultimately operate 600 to 800 Wet Seals, 200 Arden B. stores, and 300 Zutopias. In fiscal 2002, the goal is to open 50 Wet Seals, 15 to 20 Arden B. stores, and 10 to 15 Zutopia stores. Most will open in the fall. Twenty-seven stores will close. New stores average 3,300 square feet, require an initial investment of $308,000, yield about $300 in sales per square foot, and a first-year ROI of about 75 percent.