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HAMPSTEAD, MD-JoS. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. had good news for the fiscal first quarter, reporting an increase in earnings by 41% to 45 cents per share, and that the company plans to open its 400th store by September. Company officials say there’s no plans at the moment to go past 500 stores, but that its real estate is well-positioned, and the recent International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Las Vegas resulted in a number of new deals for the firm.

The company reported that net income in the first quarter of fiscal 2007 was $8.4 million, as compared to $5.9 million in the first quarter of 2006. Also in comparison, total net sales increased 13.9% to $129.5 million, from $113.7 million at the end of fiscal first quarter 2006, said company officials in a conference call on June 11.

Bob Hensley, executive vice president of store operations, said in the call that the company opened 10 new stores in the first quarter, including three in Texas, three in Illinois, two in Pennsylvania and one in New York. So far in the second quarter, the company has opened an additional four stores in Omaha, NE; New Jersey, Cleveland and Jacksonville, FL. This brings the current store total to 388, Hensley says. “We continue to identify opportunities for new stores in our core markets, open air centers and central business districts,” he said.

Hensley said the company plans to open 50 new stores in fiscal 2007, with the 400th store to open by September. “We’re not ready to announce that we plan to expand the chain to more than 500 stores,” he said in the call. “Our sales success is linked to the strength of the brand, our core metropolitan markets and the population growth in the South, Southwest and California, where we’ve seen a significant increase in store count and brand acceptance.”

Company officials said in the call that sales have been led by sportswear, dress shirts and ties. “The suit business was up in the first quarter, and in May, tuxedos were strong,” said R. Neal Black, president, during the call.

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