AMES BUYS 3 LOCATIONS FROM RICH’S
NEW YORK — Ames Department Stores said Thursday that it has acquired for $2.75 million three sites formerly operated by Rich’s Department Stores, a discount chain based in Salem, Mass., that is liquidating its operations.
The purchase was made Wednesday at an auction authorized by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Massachusetts, according to an Ames spokeswoman.
The locations are in Falmouth, Maine, Ames’s 25th Maine site; West Lebanon, N.H., its 18th unit in the Granite State, and St. Johnsbury, Vt. Ames’s existing store in St. Johnsbury — its only Vermont unit — will be moved to the larger Rich’s site to capitalize on its more favorable location.
Ames, a 303-unit chain based in Rocky Hill, Mass., is one of the only regional discount chains in the Northeast that have found success this year in turning around weak operations. It hasn’t yet reported its fourth-quarter and full-year results, but Ames said Thursday that its comparable-store sales gains beat the company plan in both the fourth quarter ended Jan. 25 and in the month of January.
Based on 274 units, comp-store sales ran up 10 percent in January to $100 million from $90.9 million and jumped 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter, to $635 million from $609 million.
Joseph R. Ettorre, Ames’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement, “The significant increase in January sales was due, in part, to strong sales in the home area, complemented by apparel sales that significantly exceeded expectations in many areas.”
Transfer of the three Rich’s leases to Ames is subject to formal bankruptcy court approval, which Ames expects to win in the near future.
Acquisition of the sites will bring planned store openings for 1997 to seven. The discounter, with annual sales of $2.2 billion, had previously announced plans to open four stores on April 10 in New Bedford, Mass.; Kingston, N.Y.; Phoenixville, Pa., and Bridgeton, N.J.
Ettorre said the new stores will feature an updated apparel presentation, highlighted in the center of the store.