SECAUCUS, NJ-The Children’s Place Retail Stores is rolling out new prototype unit this year for both its namesake chain and its Disney Stores units. The new looks come as executives expect substantial growth potential for both chains.

Many of the 60 new stores planned for the 865-unit Children’s Place, will be between 5,500 sf to 6,000 sf, up from the current average of 4,500 sf, to make way for new shoe departments. Most of the 25 remodels in the children’s-clothing chain will add the departments as well. “Shoes are our major focus of any additional category,” said Neal Goldberg, president of the chain, during the company’s fourth-quarter conference call.

Disney Stores, of which 20 are to open this year, are slated to start getting an updated look in August. However, Children’s Place still needs approval from the Walt Disney Co., from which it licenses the 328-store chain. Additionally, executives revealed that Children’s Place and Disney are currently in a licensing dispute in which Disney officials claim the terms of the companies’ agreement related to store remodels and maintenance have been breached. The two companies are in negotiations.

Both Children’s Place chains have “lots of growth ahead of us,” says Ezrah Dabah, the company’s chief executive officer. Children’s Place could support 1,200 units, while Disney could grow to more than 600 stores, he says.

Same-store sales for the quarter, which ended Feb. 3, were up 6% year over year at both chains, down from the 11% showing for all of 2006. The sharp change was for the Children’s Place stores, which only inched up 3% during the fourth quarter, as compared toe 10% for the entire year. Disney Stores’ comparable sales rose 11% through the fourth quarter and 14% for the entire 12 months.

Net sales during the fourth quarter rose 20%, hitting $645.2 million, while the company hit the $2 billion revenue mark for the entire year, rising just above that milestone, with a 21% sales increase from 2005. Meanwhile, preliminary net income for Children’s Place came in at $46.8 million in the fourth quarter.

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