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ST. PAUL, MN-Outdoor retailer Gander Mountain’s same-store sales soared 7.4% year over year during the company’s third quarter due to a boost for the fall hunting season, executives say. They especially credit the reorganization of the chain’s ammunition department with new signage and other features.

During the quarter, which ended Oct. 28, the company opened five new stores, four of them in new states for the chain – Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and West Virginia. The other opening was a second store in Virginia.

Executives are planning three stores in next year’s first half and an unspecified amount next fall, with capital expenditures coming in at $30 million to $35 million. Management also reiterates plans to open a total of 300 or more stores across the country; Gander Mountain currently operates 105 units in 22 states.

The Northeast, Southeast and Southwest offer the biggest growth opportunity for the chain, said Mark Baker, Gander Mountain’s president and chief executive officer, during its third-quarter conference call. Most of the stores being rolled out range from 60,000 sf to 65,000 sf, from its former average of 30,000 sf to 35,000 sf.

Total sales increased 14.9%, to $246.5 million during the quarter, which Baker characterizes as the best in the company’s history. Income came in at $7.5 million, up from a loss of $4.3 million during the same period last year. However, sales per sf at stores dropped to $170 to $183, due to the larger selling floors in new units.

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