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PLANO, TX-With Rent-A-Center’s acquisition of Rent-Way boosting its sales, the company can focus again on growing financial services business and its store count, executives said at its first-quarter conference call.

During the first quarter of 2007, the company added financial services to 29 existing rent-to-own store locations, ending the quarter with a total of 177 stores providing these services. That number will accelerate with the completion of the Rent-Way acquisition.

“We had said we were going to slow down the growth of our financial services business in January and February, as we consolidated the Rent-Way acquisition, and to strengthen our bench,” said Mark E. Speese, chairman and CEO. “We will add 200 financial services offices in this fiscal year.”

Rent-A-Center acquired Rent-Way in November, and the company has since closed 20% of Rent-Way’s 782 stores. Future closures will now be a part of regular operations.

Meanwhile, the company continues to expand. During the first quarter, the company opened six new rent-to-own store locations and acquired accounts from three locations, for a net reduction of 28 stores and an ending balance as of March 31, 2007 of 3,378 stores in the US and Canada. For the fiscal year, the company plans to open a total of 30 new rent-to-own stores.

For the first quarter, the company reported total revenues of $755.3 million, up 24.4% from the same period last year. Much of the increase resulted from the company’s acquisition of Rent-Way. Same-store sales rose 2.9%. Net earnings were $15.1 million (including charges related to litigation), down from $40.3 million the previous year.

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