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PHOENIX-Discount retailer Kohl’s will make a push into the Phoenix market next year when it undertakes a major expansion that will pit the Midwestern-based chain against long-established retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart.

Susan Henderson, a Kohl’s vice president, tells GlobeSt.com that the chain will open about 50 stores, a number of which will be in the Phoenix and Las Vegas areas and California by fall 2003. California also is ticketed for a distribution center, set to open in spring 2003. “Going into California, Phoenix and Las Vegas is part of our southwest expansion that will take us coast-to-coast as a national retailer,” she says.

The strong population growth in Phoenix and Las Vegas provided incentive for the expansion, Henderson adds. “We go into demographic locations that have families with children and those areas are certainly experiencing a high population explosion. It’s a great opportunity for us and we think we’ll do well there.”

Henderson says it is still unclear how many new stores Kohl’s will build in the Phoenix area or where they will be located, but each building will offer about 67,000 sf of retail space geared toward bargain conscious consumers.

Originally established as a small, family-owned grocery store in 1962 in Milwaukee, WI, Kohl’s later turned its focus to retailing to become one of the fastest-growing chains in the nation. By 2000, the company had 320 stores in 26 states. Henderson says the firm may make some small adjustments to tailor its marketing strategy to the needs of warm-weather shoppers, but will focus on its core concepts of offering brand-name clothing, housewares and other merchandise at discount prices.

“What we’re about is name brands, value and convenience,” Henderson says. “We believe that resonates strongly with consumers.

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