Catherine's Stores Corp., a plus-size women's apparel chain, plans to add as many as eight new stores in the Baltimore area, including one in Owings Mills and a relocated store in Woodlawn.
A new store will open in Valley Centre in Owings Mills in March. A store on Security Boulevard in Woodlawn will move to a new location near Security Square Mall by March.
The chain expects to open four to six additional stores.
"We are looking in the Baltimore area, but there's nothing definite yet," said Kent McClanahan, regional director of stores for Catherine's.
The chain is studying areas such as Annapolis, Bel Air, Columbia, Frederick and Westminster, mostly in strip shopping centers, said Eddie Goldmeier, a principal with Corridor Commercial Real Estate Group Inc. and the broker seeking store sites. The stores average 4,000 square feet.
The chain's expected growth in the Baltimore area reflects overall expansion planned by Charming Shoppes Inc., a Bensalem, Pa.,-based retailer that owns Catherine's as well as Fashion Bug, Fashion Bug Plus, Added Dimensions and the Answer. Charming Shoppes, which runs 1,794 stores in 48 states, expects to open 1,000 stores across its Fashion Bug, Catherine's and Added Dimensions brands during the next five years, with about 140 stores planned for next year.
The Baltimore area has Catherine's stores in Towson, Glen Burnie and Eastpoint, and an Answer store in Catonsville.
Plus sizes represent the fastest-growing segment of women's apparel. Catherine's sells casual, contemporary clothing, McClanahan said.
The new stores in Owings Mills and Woodlawn will be the first to open locally under the Catherine's banner since Charming Shoppes bought the chain for $150 million in November last year. During the summer, Charming Shoppes bought another chain, the 85-store Modern Woman, and converted most of those stores into Catherine's.
Goldmeier said the Woodlawn Catherine's will move from the Meadowpark Shopping Center on Security Boulevard into the redeveloped Security Square Shopping Center at Security Boulevard and Rolling Road. Mid-Atlantic Realty Trust is redeveloping a former Hechinger home improvement store with a Super Fresh supermarket, the Catherine's and other stores.