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(Ian Ritter is national online editor for GlobeSt.com/RETAIL.)

GOODLETTSVILLE, TN-Dollar General Corp. is closing 400 stores next year as part of a strategic review of its nearly 8,300-store portfolio. Meanwhile, the retailer will temporarily slow down its store expansion plans.

Management plans to open between 300 and 400 stores a year in 2007 and 2008 down from 800 by the end of the current 12-month period. In 2009, company officials are forecasting store growth of 700 units. Also in 2007 and 2008, the company is in the works to relocate and renovate 300 stores annually, pushing that number to 450 the following year.

Dollar General will take an estimated $138 million in charges related to its real estate restructuring, $74 million related to store closings and $64 million for the elimination of an inventory-management model. About $80 million of those charges will be reflected in the company’s third-quarter earnings, which are scheduled for a Dec. 12 release.

Meanwhile, the board has hired David L. Bere’ as its new president and chief operating officer. He has been a member of the company’s board since 2002 and most recently served as corporate vice president of Ralcorp Holdings, a St. Louis-based producer of branded foods, such as Ralston Brand and Nutcracker Brands.

During Dollar General’s second quarter, net income slide to $45.5 million from $75.6 million during the same year-ago period. Same-store sales rose 3.2%, and net sales jumped 9%, to $2.25 billion.

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