WASHINGTON -- Merry-Go-Round Enterprises Inc. is likely to close between 100 and 200 stores over the next year -- more than the 80 stores the company had announced earlier as part of its reorganization in Chapter 11.

Boogie Weinglass, the chain's ponytailed co-founder who reemerged from semi-retirement in September to take over Merry-Go-Round's merchandising, noted that while the additional store closings are under consideration, a final number has not yet been determined.

As part of its sweeping changes to reverse its fortune, Merry-Go-Round, the young fashion retailer that filed for Chapter 11 early in January, expects to find a new head merchant in about three months and plans to open a buying office in Manhattan within a few weeks, according to Weinglass.

"We are aggressively looking for someone to work with me," said Weinglass, though he declined to discuss candidates. He also emphasized that officials at the company, which operates 1,450 stores under such names as Merry-Go-Round and Cignal, have changed its merchandising strategy to emphasize more conservative fashion, which is expected to be noticeable in the stores by spring.

Weinglass, 53, replaced Stuart Lucas, a 20-year veteran, and also took over the title of chief executive officer, replacing Michael D. Sullivan, who remains as company president.

"We definitely lost our focus and got away from the basics of retailing over the last nine months, but we are going to bring it back," Weinglass said, adding that he's streamlining inventory and is making sure the stores' merchandise is tailored to their areas.

"We are going to stick by our budgets and we're going into regional buying," he said.

Weinglass admitted to poor buying decisions in the past, including staying too long on hip-hop and taking heavy gambles on wide-leg jeans and outerwear, like $400 poodle-trim leather jackets, but he said all that will change. He added that a buying office expected to open in the New York fashion district in a few weeks will give the retailer easy access to young vendors. "We are going to open our doors to anybody who wants to see us," he said.

He noted, however, that he doesn't understand why some vendors are still skittish about selling to the retailer.

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