ROCHELLE PARK, NJ-United Retail Group executives are looking to expand their Avenue women’s apparel chains more rapidly. But “the single biggest factor is finding quality, available sites,” said George Remeta, the retailer’s vice chairman and chief administrative officer, during its fourth-quarter conference call.

New-store openings have also been delayed due developers pushing back the construction times of new projects, he says. About 30 new stores are planned for the coming year, and executives would eventually like to open about 50 to 60 new units annually.

Last year, United Retail opened six stores and closed about 21 underperforming units, while remodeling 24. Between 15 and 20 closures are planned during 2007, as well as 30 renovations. The locally-based company currently operates 487 Avenue stores.

During the fourth quarter, which ended Feb. 3, United Retail’s same-store sales inched up 0.5% year over year. Total sales reached $127.6 million on a 6.8% increase, while operating income dropped to $3.3 million from $4.5 million.

For the full year, sales per-sf were $199, up from just over $190 during the prior year. Executives expect capital expenditures to come in at $25 million this year, a jump from last year’s $9.2 million, due to new store openings, remodels and technology improvements.

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