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LAS VEGAS-Wickes Furniture has set its sights on the Las Vegas Valley. The mid-priced furniture retailer plans to open its first three stores here in 2007. Company president and CEO John Disa tells GlobeSt.com he has secured two locations and is close to identifying a third.

Based in Wheeling, IL and owned by Sun Capital Partners, Wickes currently operates approximately three dozen stores in the greater Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Portland, OR areas. Wickes last entered a new market in the 1990s, when it quickly opened three stores and a distribution center in the Portland area.

The company was fairly stagnant until 2004, when it got a new owner, a new leader and a renewed focus on growth. “After Wickes bought out its partner in 2004 they brought me in to drive enterprise value,” Disa tells GlobeSt.com.

In 2005, the company closed two older stores and opened four new stores in the Chicago area. This year, the company is opening five stores in the Los Angeles area while preparing for a record 2007.

Next year, Disa says the company plans to open 12 new stores and close two older ones. If successful, it will have a total of 50 stores, half opened in the previous 36 months.

Beyond 2007, Disa says the rapid expansion plan will continue. “We’re in the process of identifying several new markets,” he says. “We’re on a very aggressive path as we continue to refine the concept.”

One quarter of the new stores in 2007 will be in Las Vegas, where the region’s Valley’s ever-growing working-class population is right in Wickes’ wheelhouse. Disa says he’s got two sites tied up–one a stand-alone building and another that is part of a larger development–and is close to securing a third location. For competitive reasons, he declined to be more specific at this time.

“It’s a high-growth market that fits our demographic,” Disa says. “There’s a high probability of success.”

As for design, Wickes’ Vegas stores will conform to the company’s prototypical 40,000-sf layout and its relatively new showroom design, which it describes as a clean, contemporary, industrial look. The design includes floor-to-ceiling glass and interiors finished with brick, brushed metal and wood. The company already has remodeled several of its existing showrooms in such a fashion.

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