BOSTON — Chico’s will launch its second women’s apparel division in the first quarter of 2003 with six to eight stores in the South, Charles Klemen, chief financial officer of the specialty chain, said Tuesday at the CIBC Consumer Growth conference at the Four Seasons Hotel here.

Likely locations are Atlanta, San Diego, Washington, and Charlotte, Klemen said. A couple of locations in Florida and Texas are also being considered.

The Fort Myers, Fla.-based retailer previously disclosed intentions to launch its second division, which is still unnamed. Internally, the project has been called Lucky Star, but Chico’s has said the stores won’t have that name.

According to Klemen, the division will target a younger and less affluent customer than the 331-store Chico’s chain. It will target women 25 to 40, with a household income of $40,000 to $60,000 and feature outfits about half the price of those at the Chico’s chain.

At the core Chico’s chain, 65 stores will open this year, with the selling space averaging 2,000 square feet. The new stores will be larger than existing ones, which average 1,765 square feet. The chain is also expanding its existing stores where sales are exceeding $1,000 per square foot.

As reported, merchandise for the new division has been tested since the start of fiscal 2001 at Chico’s stores. The niche for the new concept will fit in somewhere between Abercrombie & Fitch and Chico’s, leaning more toward Ann Taylor Loft, while reportedly seeking Banana Republic’s market.

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