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DETROIT-Detroit-based pizza maker Little Caesars says it plans to open 100 to 200 more stores across the country. The chain, which is the fourth largest of the nation’s pizza companies, said it plans to expand its Detroit-area market by opening more stores in Western Wayne and Macomb counties, and remodeling or moving about 45 stores. It has also targeted the Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston areas for national growth.

“It’s a gradual climbing up the hill,” said Michael Atwell, vice president of real estate for Little Caesars. Atwell, who spoke at the recent ICSC Michigan Idea Exchange conference, told developers and retail brokers that Little Caesars is looking for local and national sites ranging from 1,200 to 1,600 sf and in neighborhood shopping centers in middle-income neighborhoods.

The chain has been opening about 100 stores a year for the last several years, though its total number of outlets hasn’t changed much over the last several years because the chain closed about 200 in-store Kmart pizza shops in 2002 and 2003. Little Caesar’snow has about 2,000 stores nationwide. Atwell said in recent years about one third of new store openings have been corporate-owned operations and the rest have been franchisee locations, a trend likely to continue.

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