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BOSTON-Dress Barn could double the size of its young adult-oriented Maurices chain in coming years, president and CEO David Jaffe told attendees at the CIBC World Markets Sixth Annual Consumer Growth Conference, held here.

The Suffern, NY-based value apparel chain acquired Maurices in January 2005, and plans to increase its store count by 55 units in fiscal 2006, and 60 to 65 stores in fiscal 2007. Maurice’s now has 533 stores in 40 states.

“We see Maurices continuing to be our growth vehicle for the next several years,” Jaffe said.

Maurices, which targets female shoppers in their late teens to 34 (and also has a small amount of men’s apparel), has little direct competition, he said. Fashion Bug and Cato shoppers have slightly lower incomes, and discounters do not provide the same level of customer service as Maurices.

Maurices units are largely concentrated in the Midwest, with little to no presence in major states such as California, Florida, New York and Texas. With favored co-tenant Super Wal-Mart pursuing substantial growth in these states, “we have tremendous opportunity,” Jaffe added.

Dress Barn, which now has 792 stores in 45 states, also will see some growth, with 40 new stores planned for fiscal 2006 and 40 new units for fiscal 2007. New stores will largely be located in power centers anchored by a Target or Super Wal-Mart, though the company will be testing stores in B malls, Jaffe said. However, Dress Barn also will close 30 units in each of fiscal 2006 and 2007.

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