It’s already being touted as the discount powerhouse that will alter the region’s retail landscape. With 40 stores blanketing southern California, Arizona and Nevada through this spring, Kohl’s might very well mean some heady competition for such long-standing local fixtures as Mervyn’s and Robinsons-May.

Last summer, the fast-growing Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based retailer was already putting the finishing touches on a 650,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art distribution center on a former Air Force base in San Bernadino, Calif. The 420-unit chain is among the industry’s hottest growth stories, with revenues up 21.7 percent to $7.49 billion in 2001, marking nine years of continuous growth. In 2002, it entered Houston with 12 stores and Boston with 13.

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