Clothier Bank says it's poised to be No. 1

Local menswear chain plans to add hundreds of stores within 5 years

October 16, 2002|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Saying it is poised to become the top menswear retailer in the United States, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. raised earnings expectations for fiscal 2002 yesterday and said it will accelerate store openings next year.

The Hampstead-based chain said it expects third-quarter earnings of at least 25 cents a share, 20 percent more than the 21 cents a share it earned in the third quarter last year.

For fiscal 2002, the company projects earnings of at least $1.40 a share, which would be 33 percent more than in fiscal 2001 and the third straight year with growth of at least 30 percent.

Bank said its strong balance sheet and cash flow will enable it to take advantage of real estate deals and open up to 350 stores over the next five years. That would expand the 152-store chain to more than 500 stores in 30 states.

At least 50 stores will open next year, said Robert N. Wildrick, Bank's chief executive officer. The company had been on track to open at least 30 stores next year.

The new growth strategy calls for Bank to open 75 stores in 2004 and up to 100 stores each year after. That rate of store openings would allow the chain to generate average growth in earnings per share of at least 20 percent in five years.

"Three years ago, we announced a plan to grow our chain of menswear retail stores and increase our profits, and we have done this," Wildrick said in a statement. "Now we are ready to take our brand to the next level."

The retailer's sales last month rose 9.2 percent - driven by strong demand for tailored apparel - while U.S. retail sales for the month rose an average of 1.5 percent.

Bank's shares rose 62 cents to $20.79 yesterday.

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