COLUMBUS, OH-Shoe retailer DSW Inc. plans to open at least 30 new stores this year, company officials said Thursday, in outlining growth plans during a conference call to report fourth-quarter and full-year earnings. The new stores are part of a strategy that will involve “significant investments in future growth initiatives during the year,” officials said.

Peter Horvath, president, noted that the company opened 29 new stores in 2006 and implemented a “stronger and more productive real estate strategy” that has established “developer relationships that bring us access to greater positions in top centers with favorable lease terms.”

Horvath continued, “Our access to premium sites, coupled with the right size and more efficient store format, and opening stores faster,” helped the company boost results. From the day they opened, he said, stores that debuted in 2006 posted sales per sf above the chain target of $300 per sf.

Horvath called 2007 “a year of incredible growth and change at DSW.” He cited record earnings and sales, record profit margins and record inventory turns, pointing out that the company ended the year with $47 million more cash on the balance sheet.

For the fourth quarter ended Feb. 3, DSW posted net income of $16.6 million, or 37 cents a share, up from $10 million and 23 cents a share in last year’s fourth quarter. Sales climbed to $329.1 million from $283.8 million on a year-to-year, quarterly basis, with same-store sales edging up 1% versus an 11.3% hike in last year’s fourth quarter.

For the full year, DSW earned net income of $65.5 million, or $1.48 per share, compared with $37.2 million and $1 per share the year before. Sales rose to $1.28 billion from $1.14 billion, with same-store sales increasing 2.5% versus an increase of 5.4% for the previous fiscal year.

DSW sells brand name and designer dress, casual and athletic shoes for women and men. As of March 29, the company operated 228 stores in 36 states and supplied shoes to 364 leased locations in the US.

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