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Ian Ritter is national online editor for GlobeSt.com/RETAIL.

PHOENIX-PetsMart is poised for future growth and has the potential for at least 1,400 units in the US and Canada, an increase from the 700 stores it has now, according to a Lehman Brothers report. Alan Rifkin, a retail analyst at the firm, says, “pet industry dynamics remain the best in all of hardline retailing.”

PetsMart plans to have opened 83 units by the end of the year and has another 100 on tap for 2005. The company will make a push into underserved markets such as California and the Northeast, says the report, which summarized locally based PetsMart’s investor day in Chicago last week.

Part of the retailer’s rollout includes the opening of 12 PetsHotel units next year and 20 in 2006. The company currently operates 14 of the shops, which are a pet boarding concept. PetsMart expects it can open up to 270 of those units.

The retailer not only is opening new stores, but is remodeling stores into a new format it calls Eagle II. The remodels cost $50,000 per store, including new signs. PetsMart expects to remodel 40% of the chain by the end of next year and the entire portfolio by the end of the following year. The company also is introducing a customer loyalty card program that it expects will be in 301 stores by yearend.

Lehman Brothers projects a 7% jump in same store sale for the year and a 6% rise in 2005. The chain also will post a 12.5% increase in net sales by yearend, bringing revenues up to $3.4 billion. The company reported a year-over-year, same-store sales increase of 5.4% in its latest quarterly financial report.

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