By  on February 16, 2006

NEW YORK — Jones Apparel Group Inc. is in retail growth mode.

The company said Wednesday that it is looking to open more of its own stores to diversify in the face of the consolidation that is sweeping the department store sector. The company said it will open 15 Anne Klein New York accessories retail stores this year, as well as accelerate store openings for its Bandolino concept. The company also is preparing for the opening of a Barneys New York flagship in Boston shortly, as well as a store in Dallas in the fall. Peter Boneparth, president and chief executive officer of Jones, added the company is looking at sites for additional stores in 2007 and beyond.

the fall. Peter Boneparth, president and chief executive officer of Jones, added the company is looking at sites for additional stores in 2007 and beyond.

Jones also is looking at possible acquisitions, such as in retail and in opportunities in the contemporary sector where the company can add value and make them bigger businesses than they are right now, Boneparth said, without providing details.

The apparel and footwear group revealed the strategy as it reported a 63.3 percent jump in profits for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 to $55.7 million, or 48 cents, compared with $34.1 million, or 28 cents, in the same year-ago quarter.

The consensus among Wall Street analysts was earnings per share of 45 cents, according to a survey by Thomson Financial. Excluding restructuring expenses and costs associated with its strategic operating initiatives, EPS would have been 51 cents a share. Total revenues rose 12.8 percent to $1.22 billion from $1.08 billion, which included a sales gain of 13.1 percent to $1.2 billion from $1.06 billion and a 7.2 percent decline in licensing income to $19.4 million from $20.9 million.

For the year, income was down 9.1 percent to $274.3 million, or $2.30 a share, from $301.8 million, or $2.39, a year ago. Revenues gained 9.1 percent to $5.07 billion from $4.65 billion, which included a sales gain of 9.2 percent to $5.01 billion from $4.59 billion and a 4.4 percent increase in licensing income to $59.6 million from $57.1 million.

"On a relative basis, the wholesale better apparel business performed better than last year. Having said that, it was still too promotional for my taste," said Boneparth during a conference call to Wall Street analysts.

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