NEW YORK — Aiming to counter Kmart Corp.’s move into Manhattan late this year, Conway Stores Inc. is planning a major expansion and remodeling of its flagship at 1333 Broadway.
Conway expects to add about 25,000 square feet of selling space to the unit, which is at 35th Street and Herald Square, effectively doubling its existing space, said Jack Doueck, a vice president.
The remodeled Conway, which has been at the Herald Square location one block north of Macy’s flagship for more than 50 years, will become the retailer’s first Conway World Premiere store and its largest unit.
Conway operates 18 units: 16 in Manhattan and two 40,000-square-foot stores in the Bronx. Some also are candidates for conversion to the World Premiere format, Doueck said, but he declined to identify them.
“We want to do one at a time, but this is the first one,” he said. “We shook hands on a few others, but we don’t have anything signed.”
The remodeling should be completed by June or July, he said, but he declined to say how much Conway will spend on the project.
Conway’s remodeling plans stem, in part, from Kmart’s decision to open its first Manhattan discount store in November at One Penn Plaza on West 34th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. Kmart, as reported, also is eyeing a number of other locations in and around Manhattan.
“The customer will have Kmart across the street at Penn Station and they’ll have an expanded Conway,” Doueck said. “Conway is not going to lay down and die.”
Doueck said Conway has just completed “its best Christmas ever.” He declined to specify the size of the company’s overall sales increase, but said some units open more than one year showed boosts of more than 25 percent on a same-store basis. The privately held company has estimated annual sales of about $175 million.
As part of the flagship remodeling, Conway wants to upgrade its apparel selection and is aiming for “the fashion of Macy’s with the price tags of Kmart,” Doueck said.
In addition to Kmart, other discounters and off-pricers such as Bradlees, Caldor and Filene’s Basement are either opening or considering units in Manhattan.
The expansion project includes increasing sales levels from two to three, the addition of five escalators and a redesigned front entrance. Conway will take over existing office and nonretail space in the building to accomplish its expansion, Doueck said. The existing store stretches along Broadway from 35th Street almost to 36th Street and includes five entrances.
In the redesigned unit, Conway expects to increase its selection in women’s plus sizes, lingerie and sportswear departments and add some new departments such as misses. Overall, the retailer is looking to increase its women’s apparel business by 60 percent with the expansion, Doueck said. He declined to comment on the store’s current volume.
“The ladies department is going to be more than doubled,” he said. “And it’s going to be featured right in the front of the store, right where you come in the store. Right across the street from Macy’s.”