Byline: David Moin

NEW YORK — The sites of Bloomingdale’s first stores in California have reportedly been chosen. They are:
* Century City Mall, Los Angeles.
* Sherman Oaks Fashion Square, suburban Los Angeles.
* Fashion Island, Newport Beach, about one hour outside of Los Angeles.
* Stanford Town Center, just north of San Francisco.
Reportedly, the four stores — all of which were either Broadway or Emporium sites — are slated to open toward the end of 1996, in time for the Christmas selling season. The stores were acquired this year by Bloomingdale’s parent organization, Federated Department Stores.
The California invasion represents the biggest expansion in Bloomingdale’s history. With the four stores, the chain will take on an additional 900,000 to 1 million square feet of selling space in northern and Southern California and potentially $200 million in volume the first year.
Company officials previously said Bloomingdale’s would open stores in California, but have yet to disclose precisely where. On Tuesday, officials would not confirm any details of the expansion, but an announcement is imminent.
The new Bloomingdale’s units will reportedly average 225,000 square feet.
Sources said Bloomingdale’s is considering two or three more sites in California, possibly for November 1997 openings. One strong contender is the Emporium site on Market Street in San Francisco.
Federated officials have also hinted that other openings are possible outside the U.S., in the Pacific Rim, Canada and Mexico. All 16 current Bloomingdale’s units are in the U.S.
Bloomingdale’s, with an annual volume of $1.4 billion, has gradually built up its branch system over the last two decades, opening units in south Florida; the greater metropolitan New York, Washington and Chicago areas, and in Chestnut Hill, Mass., and Bloomington, Minn.
The largest branch, 303,000 square feet, opened in November in Long Island’s Roosevelt Field.
Historically, Bloomingdale’s focus has been on its 59th Street flagship, the scene of major merchandise promotions and launches. Branches were relatively neglected.
About four years ago, efforts to elevate branch performances were stepped up. Such categories as bridge and contemporary sportswear, fine and fashion jewelry, accessories, intimate apparel, petites, china, rugs and men’s wear were bolstered. Services were added and costs cut.
The belief was that Bloomingdale’s could be further expanded, but not until existing branches contributed more to operating profits. The West Coast plan is an indication that Bloomingdale’s has been primed for more profitable growth and that Federated thinks it can get a reasonable return on its investment in additional stores.
Reportedly, Federated has allocated about $100 million to build the four Bloomingdale’s stores.

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