4 AMES STORES REMODELED WITH UPDATED APPAREL AREAS
Byline: Valerie Seckler
NEW YORK — Ames Department Stores has remodeled four stores with updated apparel presentations as part of a plan to redo up to 15 units this year.
The made-over stores are located in Southington and East Hartford, Conn., and Carmel and New Paltz, N.Y.
“In the old days, we tried to boost store sales 10 percent by remodeling weak sites,” said Joe Ettore, president and chief executive officer of the regional discounter based in Rocky Hill, Conn. “These days, we try to lift sales in our best stores by 10 percent or so, to get a bigger increase” through renovation.
“We expect the two Connecticut sites to show substantial sales gains,” Ettore added, but he declined to specify.
Ames’s 291 stores, located in 14 eastern states and the District of Columbia, generate sales of $2.2 billion annually. Ames is considered one of the stronger regional discounters, and holds its own against the national discounters. Two-thirds of the Ames chain compete directly with Wal-Mart.
Fifty of those units feature Ames’s latest format, a prototype that was launched in the chain’s Mt. Pocono, Pa., store in 1994.
The layout includes “soft corners” — created by trimming the length of gondolas to open up areas normally filled by shelving — for merchandise displays of toys, furniture, consumer electronics and domestics. In addition, the “low profile” of apparel goods featured in the center of the selling floor opens up sight lines, making the unit easier to shop, Ettore said.
The new apparel areas are slightly larger than older areas, and use display walls of denim wear as focal points, he noted.
This year, Ames plans to remodel between five and 15 stores. In 1996, it scaled back renovation plans to just five units after it acquired 12 locations from the former Jamesway chain, Ettore said.
“We focus our remodeling efforts on sites that produce our best sales and are among our most profitable,” the ceo continued. “Some see double-digit sales gains; others get mid-to-high single digit growth.
“Sometimes productivity isn’t the primary reason we redo stores,” Ettore added. “If we’re expecting a new competitor in a trading area, we’ll upgrade a store that’s looking tired, but we may not see a big sales increase.”
Ames’s goal is to open five to 10 doors this year. Seven openings have been slated to date, including four to bow on April 10 in Bridgeton, N.J., Kingston, N.Y., Phoenixville, Pa., and New Bedford, Mass. The other three sites are former Rich’s Department Store units that will be converted to the Ames format. Last year, Ames opened 13 stores.
Asked whether Ames is hunting for acquisitions, Ettore said, “We’re not working on anything right now, but we’ve always got our eyes open. Last year we bought the Jamesway stores; this year we’ve picked up some Rich’s.”