ST. LOUIS—Bakers Footwear Group will slow its new store growth in fiscal 2007. But expansion should bounce back in 2008, executives said at the company’s third quarter conference call.

After opening 34 new stores in fiscal 2006, Bakers will open 12 to 18 new stores in fiscal 2007, with half of them opening in the first half of the year. Openings will be backfill locations. The company also plans eight remodels in fiscal 2007, after completing 15 remodels in 2006.

“Our decision to slow the growth of new stores will allow us to fund the expansion from cash flow,” said Peter Edison, chairman and CEO. “We hope to accelerate the expansion in fiscal 2008.”

Bakers Footwear Group currently operates 261 stores under the Bakers and Wild Pair banners. Ultimately, the chain hopes to operate up to 600 Bakers and Wild Pair stores, the chain said.

Healthy third-quarter sales were tempered by comparisons with an exceptionally strong 2005. Net sales increased 7.7%, to $46.6 million, but comparable store sales decreased 4.2% compared to a 21.0% increase last year. The chain posted a net loss of $2.6 million, vs. a loss of $1.1 million the previous year.

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