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Ross Stores’ New Store Rollout Plan Surges Toward 2,500 Locations

Ross Stores announced Monday plans to open 100 stores between its namesake chain and its dd’s Discounts stores during this fiscal year.

While other segments of retail have been trimming doors, off-price continues to ramp up. For it’s part, Ross has been opening roughly 90 stores net per year on its way to its goal of 2,500 doors between the two banners.

The retail group currently operates 1,432 Ross stores and 219 dd’s locations with 75 more of the former and 25 of the latter coming this year.

“With these recent openings, we continued our growth in both new and existing markets. Our newest market for Ross Dress for Less is Nebraska, and for dd’s DISCOUNTS, we entered Illinois with two new stores,” said Jim Fassio, president and chief development officer.

The company addressed its new store rollout plan during its fourth quarter earnings call. President and COO Michael Sullivan said Ross has been able to capitalize on the opportunities in the market left by the recent retail contraction. To do so, he said, Ross has needed to be flexible in the locations and sizes of its newest stores.

He also noted the retail group has been focused on strengthening its push into the Midwest, though only about a quarter of the new stores will be located there.

In addition to the openings, Ross plans to close or relocate 10 older stores.

Despite questions surrounding the continued strength of the off-price sector, Ross seems to be going strong. The company beat expectations and posted a 16-percent increase in sales during the fourth quarter. And Sullivan said it is positioned to continue its strong performance going forward, regardless of what happens in the larger economy. And he’s not worried about stocking the growing fleet either.

“When the economy is doing well, typically what happens is the price differentiation between us and department stores and other competitors actually increases,” Sullivan said, illustrating how good times make off-price more attractive. A strong economy also means there’s more available goods in the market because suppliers feel confident enough to produce more, he said. “Obviously in a negative economy, you end up with the flip side happening. You end up with the market becoming more promotional, which makes life difficult. But you also end up with supply, because obviously some of the sales expectations of the department stores and other retailers aren’t met.”