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YORK, PA-After more than doubling its store count in 2006 with the March acquisition of 142 Carson’s stores and the October buy of five Parisian units, locally based Bon-Ton Stores Inc. continues to cull its total stock and reap big rewards. Sales for the year, which include 11 months of the Carson’s integration, boosted total sales 161% to nearly $3.4 billion and sent shares of BONT on the Nasdaq to a new high of $56.87 a share, almost triple the 52-week low of $20.22 a share.

Meanwhile, it continues to close underperforming units. It will not renew the lease for its 108,000-sf Northtown unit in Buffalo, NY, which expires this year, and it has entered into an agreement to sell its 102,500-sf Irondequoit store in Rochester, NY. The buyer of the Irondequoit unit is Bersin Properties LLC, which acquired the Irondequoit Mall two years ago and has renamed it Medley Centre. The price tag for the Bon-Ton unit sale is undisclosed.

These follow the disposition of three stores during fourth-quarter 2006 along with a distribution center in Iowa. The company “continually reviews the performance of all its assets,” says Byron Bergren, president and CEO, in a statement. The recent sales and closings take the Bon-Ton’s unit count to 280, which operate under the Bon-Ton, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s, Younkers and Parisian nameplates.

Phases one and two of the Carson’s integration are complete ahead of schedule, management reported during a conference call. “This is a long-term story, and we’re in the first chapter,” said Keith Plowman, EVP and CFO.

Fourth-quarter 2006 sales soared 169% to just north of $1.2 billion, compared with $464.6 million for the same quarter a year ago. They included $805.7 million from Carson’s and Parisian units.

In noting the company’s stock run-up, an analyst asked if a stock split or offering was planned. Bergren said, “We’re looking at all options; there are a lot out there.”

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