GRAPEVINE, TX-GameStop is upping its store-opening plans by about 100 units this year from its 2006 expansion. The video-game retailer has between 500 and 550 stores in the works for the fiscal year, an increase from the 421 that opened their doors last year.

Just more than 60% of the new units are planned for domestic locations, while the rest will open in foreign countries. The company also plans 75 closures worldwide, down from the 131 doors it shut last year. Overall, GameStop operates 4,778 stores in 15 countries, mostly in the US.

Last year GameStop fully integrated the more than 2,000 stores it gained as a result of its acquisition of competitor EB Games in 2005, said R. Richard Fontaine, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, during GameStop’s fourth-quarter conference call. That merger has let the retailer better pick its real estate, he says.

Specifically, the chain doesn’t feel pushed by shopping-center owners to go into untested, new developments, Fontaine says. “We don’t have to move so fast until we get a clearer picture on how these projects are developing,” he says, pointing out that there is more demand for GameStop in established retail venues.

During its fourth quarter, which ended Feb. 3, year-over-year same-store sales soared 26.5%, and executives predict a 15% to 17% jump for fiscal year 2007. Total sales increased 38.2%, to $2.3 billion, while net earnings came in at $129.8 million, up from $85 million during the same year-ago period.

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