By  on February 16, 2009

Fast-fashion chain Forever 21 plans to launch a prototype in California this year that will double its average store size.

The privately held retailer aims to open an estimated 80,000-square-foot store at Los Cerritos Center, a Macerich-owned mall near Los Angeles, in late 2009. The space was acquired as a result of the liquidation of Hayward, Calif.-based retailer Mervyns.

The concept will feature a brightly lit floor space with women’s and men’s apparel divided by look — vintage, casual or avant-garde, for example —surrounded by accessory walls along the indoor perimeter.

“It’s a way to use our fast-fashion heritage to offer more categories for more customers,” said senior vice president Larry Meyer. “We’re bringing in larger sizes, a more enhanced shoe collection, lingerie and more categories.”

Forever 21 acquired 15 Mervyns leases in a joint bid with Kohl’s, which took over 31 stores, for $6.25 million in a court auction in December.

There is risk in opening a slew of a new-format locations, especially during the recession. But Meyer said the new concept would help the chain appeal to consumers older than 24, a demographic that represents more than one-third of Forever 21’s overall customer base, with 45 percent falling between 18 and 24 years old and the remaining 20 percent under 18.

The apparel retailer’s revenue has grown from $180 million eight years ago to roughly $1.65 billion last year, with about $2 billion projected for 2009, Meyer said.

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