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RIBBON-CUTTING ORGY: In a move ambitious even by its own standards, Wal-Mart will open 24 new supercenters today.
The supercenter concept, which combines a full-line supermarket with a conventional discount store, is currently Wal-Mart's key growth strategy in the U.S. The stores range from 100,000 to 200,000 square feet.
The format uses low grocery prices to entice shoppers, who also can purchase Wal-Mart's apparel and hard lines, which are priced low, but with higher margins.
Among today's supercenter openings are: Rome, N.Y.; Clearfield, Pa., and Culpeper, Va. These are Wal-Mart's first supercenters in those states.
With the end of its fiscal year Tuesday, Wal-Mart will have 144 supercenters in operation. The company said another 100 units are planned for the fiscal year ending in January 1996. Of those, 85 are conversions of existing discount stores.
Ed Comeau, an analyst at Lehman Bros., said, however, that he believes Wal-Mart will open as many as 115 supercenters and fewer than the planned 100 conventional discount stores. He said Wal-Mart was experiencing problems opening discount stores in upstate New York, the Pacific Northwest and Vermont due to development and community opposition issues. For that reason, expansion efforts may be stepped up on the supercenter side in other communities, he noted.
"They're refocusing some real estate and development efforts toward supercenters," he said, "and they're having increasing levels of success [operating] them."

MORE VALUE: Value City Department Stores will make its debut in the Detroit and St. Louis markets this spring.
In the St. Louis market, an 85,000-square-foot unit will open in Webster Groves, Mo., and additional sites in the area are being eyed, according to a spokesman. The first St. Louis store will be housed in a former Builders Square unit. Two stores are planned for Detroit.
Last fall, Value City opened its first three stores in the Chicago area and a fourth unit is expected to open in that market late this year.
Based in Columbus, Ohio, Value City operates 78 discount stores in the Midwest and East.

OUT IN APRIL: Rose's Stores said it has exceeded 1994 operating cash flow requirements to have its court-approved Chapter 11 reorganization plan become effective in April.
The company did not specify the cash flow amount, but said it is negotiating the final terms of an $80 million post-reorganization financing deal. Rose's, based in Henderson, N.C., operates 113 discount stores in 10 Southeastern states.
As reported, Rose's plan of reorganization was approved Dec. 14. Under the terms of the plan, trade and other unsecured creditors will be given 100 percent of the stock of Rose's in settlement of their claims.

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