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CHICAGO-Family Dollar isn’t expanding currently as fast as it has in recent years, but its chairman and chief executive says the retailer could still eventually double the 6,000 stores it operates across the country. Future growth can mainly come in California, which is a newer market for the Matthews, NC-based company, as well as urban areas, said Howard Levine, speaking here at the William Blair Growth Stock Conference.

In efforts to increase its return on investment, Family Dollar is opening 350 stores this year, down from the 500 the company has opened annually over the past few years. Eventually, it is management’s goal to return to 8% to 10% growth after the firm is up to speed, Levine says.

“We believe that there’s tremendous opportunity for growth,” he says. Family Dollar has not yet started its push into California, and urban markets only represent 1,400 of the company’s total stores. Urban stores, which the Family Dollar introduced last year, have higher volumes and make more money than suburban locations, Levine says, but are more difficult to manage because of the increased number of consumers and employees.

Family Dollar is also adding more coolers in its stores in efforts to drive perishable-food sales in its stores. The retailer has coolers in 3,100 of its units and plans to have them in 3,500 locations by the end of the year.

Family Dollar posted strong results during its latest quarter, which ended May 27, when net income rose 5.8% and year-over-year same-store sales jumped 3.7%. But the retailer is slowing growth due to a weaker fiscal year ended Aug. 27 of last year, when net income fell 15.7%, to $217.5 million.

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