NEW YORK CITY—After posting a 17.4% gain in total net sales during FY2006, tony teen clothier Aeropostale, Inc. is putting its money where the mall is, earmarking upwards of $85.0 million to reformat existing retail while launching new stores in unchartered territory such as Canada. Company officials discussed those plans Thursday during a presentation of last year’s financial results and accompanying 2007 forecast.

“We are excited about the growth opportunities … including our initial penetration of the Canadian market,” chairman and CEO Julian Geiger relayed in his prepared statement. “It is our goal to maintain the balance in our merchandise and invest in appropriate infrastructure to support our expanding business.”

Despite popularity as a brand among young Canadians, Aeropostale has no retail presence across the border as it celebrates 20 years in business. The firm plans to have 10 there by FY 2008, although most of the growth will continue to be in the firm’s backyard, with another 75 stores slated to open in the United States this year. Four stores came on line in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006, giving Aeropostale 729 stores in 47 states. The company has another line, Jimmy’Z, that has 14 stores in 11 states.

The 71 new stores opened nationally in 2006 were the fewest launches for Aeropostale since 2001, but company officials reaffirmed their goal of reaching 1,000 stores. Geiger did not provide specifics on which areas will see the biggest expansion. Another goal is to open a new distribution center on the West Coast to service Aeropostale’s regional operations.

Aeropostale reported double-digit annual sales growth for 2006 and earnings per share appreciation of 25.3%. Net income was $106.6 million compared to $83.9 million in FY 2005, while total net sales soared to $1.41 billion, up 17.4% from the $1.20 billion achieved the previous year. Same-stores sales growth was more subdued at 2%, but Geiger was nonetheless upbeat about the 2006 campaign.

“We are pleased that we executed our strategic initiatives consistently and well,” he said, adding, “We ended the year with strong momentum and we believe that the Aeropostale brand is recognized, respected and effectively positioned for a strong 2007.”

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