DALLAS-The Neiman Marcus Group posted sales and income gains during its third quarter as the upscale department-store chain slowly increases its store count. Same-store sales for the quarter, which ended April 29, were up 6.8% across its 56-unit portfolio year-over-year.

Sales per sf were also up at the chain, rising to $605 per sf from $567 per sf during the same year-ago period. Some of the strongest-performing sales categories for the company included sportswear, jewelry and women’s apparel, executives said during their conference call.

On the real estate end, Neiman Marcus is opening six of its namesake department stores during the next four years. “We are focused on maximizing the growth potential at our full-line stores,” says Burton Tansky, the retailer’s president and chief executive officer.

This year the company is opening an 80,000-sf Charlotte, NC unit in the fall. An 80,000-sf store is set to open in Austin, TX, next spring and the company plans a 100,000-sf unit in Natick, MA the following fall. Two stores, a 150,000-sf unit in Oyster Bay, NY; and a 120,000-sf store in West Los Angeles, are planned for the fall of 2008.

Most recently, management announced a 90,000-sf store that will open in Princeton, NJ, in the spring of 2010. “There is clearly a gap in upscale retail between Philadelphia and Short Hills, NJ,” says Tansky.

The chief executive would not shed any light on rumors that the company plans to expand its Bergdorf Goodman concept beyond its New York City store. However, he says the company will “maintain a very disciplined approach to expansion.”

Total revenues for the quarter increased to $1 billion from $933.4 million; adjusted operating earnings rose to $151 million, up from $134.7 million. Neiman operates 37 Neiman Marcus department stores, one Bergdorf Goodman unit and 18 Last Call clearance centers.

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